Beer is great. We drink it all the time. But have you ever looked at the container your beer comes in? If you look closely, you’ll see there’s art on it. This week, we asked the Fervent Few to put down their bottles and cans and to use their hands instead for typing about which breweries and artists are rocking their world visually.
Ross O’Neill: “Locally, I really like Dan Grzeca's artwork on Hop Butcher’s cans. It's really in-depth and substantial. All of his work is great, and he's done a bunch of work on gig posters for some prominent bands. I also enjoy Odell's packaging. Guess I'm just a sucker for hand-drawn content.”
Tim Coe: “I’m a big fan of the way Collective Arts puts different (yet cohesive) images on each of the four cans in a 4-pack.”
Tyler W. Plourd: “When I first saw a Trillium can, I couldn't get over the stark white wrapped label with amazing use of negative space. Since then, they've remained among my most beloved can designs thanks to those crisp looking drawings and minimalistic design. TRVE is another one that springs to mind just because their gothic/metal vibe is so damn badass, but without being too over the top and busy.”
Justin Clifford Wilson: “3F’s redesign has been pretty on point. Very respectful to the image, but modern. Loving the cans coming out of Anchorage, Greenpoint Beer and Ale in NYC is fun hipster laughs, Jack's Abbey’s straightforward designs (you know what you get, Finback being similar), and, ‘cause I'm biased, love the Schlenkerla in cans. Wrap’s cheap and it lets the product speak.”
Caldwell Bishop: “Lickinghole Creek and Tröegs are probably some of my favorite designs. I used to like New Holland’s, but I don’t see their beer around as much. It’s not beer, but I also really like Charm City Meadworks’ stuff.”
Thad Parsons: “For intricate artwork that has tons of inside jokes/references: Smartmouth.
Overall brand style: Commonwealth & Central State & Port City.
Not beer: Old Westminster Winery (check out their Instagram for their canned wines, great packaging, and some boundary-pushing beverages).”
Rob Steuart: “These guys from Rocky Ridge Brewing Company are my favourite at the moment. The tesselated pictures are a great theme and the cans look super clean. They use local artists, which is great, and adds into their ideaology of sourcing as much from their own farm and local producers as they can.”
Bill Kuhn: “I really appreciate when a brand has cohesive and clean branding. The first that immediately comes to mind is Maine Beer Co. Their branding is so simple and clean that it stands out simply by not being loud. On shelves these days, loud branding clouds the space and looks like graffiti. Maine stands out by not trying to stand out. Burlington Beer Co. also has a similarly cohesive and clean design.”
Quinn Thompson: “I'm a huge fan of Pfriem's branding. They've designed very classic and elegant branding with their labels and use 375mL cork and cage for their Belgian-inspired and barrel-aged beers. They even have three different label designs to help quickly discern their ‘traditional’ beers from the Belgian-inspired beers from the barrel-aged and mixed-ferm beers. Their beautiful design translates seamlessly to their merchandise and their overall taproom experience. There was a good blog post about their design process a few years ago that's still quite relevant.”
Lana Svitankova: “I am that person who will choose the beer by label if there's no brewery/style preference at the beer shop. I really love clean, minimalistic design or the other way ‘round like some intricate detailed art nouveau. To mention a few: Trillium, American Solera, Northern Monk (the trilogy series was mindblowing in sense of color, texture, and overall design), Vocation Brewery, and Must Lips from Estonia had an amazing series.”
Rick Owens: “Mike Lawrence, who does about 40-50% of the artwork for Tired Hands Brewing Company, is incredible. Mike’s from Atlanta, and when I met Jean Broillet at Suarez last year and was telling him about my Mike Lawrence fandom, Jean said that he’s been trying to get Mike to finally move up to Philly. Looks like Mike finally made the move a few weeks ago. Looking forward to seeing more of his impact at Tired Hands. Also, Cory King’s wine-label-take on his beers has been another favorite of mine. Simple, elegant, and thoughtful—just like his beers.”
William Weber: “I love designs that exude either simple elegance or unabashed humor. For the former, I think Side Project is tough to beat. For the latter, I’ve got to give a shoutout to artist Craig Gilbert for the fun work he’s been doing over the years for New England Brewing Co. 668: The Neighbor of the Beast will always be one of my favorite can designs. Cheers!”
Bryan Arndt: “The design work for Pipeworks and Half Acre has always really impressed me. They find a way to be both unique and identifiable with each brewery. Half Acre has done an exceptional job as of late with incorporating can colors with label art.”
Steve Rimington: “Northern Monk’s Patron’s Project cans are incredible—striking works of art in their own right. Lervig’s designs by Nanna Guldbæk are always fun. I love the dashes of colour splashing over Pohjala’s labels and the pencil sketch/colouring style of the Brasserie Trois Dames is beautiful and distinctive.”
Dave Riddile: “Austin Beerworks has my favorite packaging out of the Texas breweries. Really fun and cohesive branding across all their brands and it really shows up on a crowded shelf.”
Nick Yoder: “I'm a fan of clean, simple design that tends to just change up colors to signify different beers, like Rhinegeist and Central State. I like the twist Highland puts on the trend with its mountain background. I love the simple elegance of Side Project that symbolizes exactly what's in the bottle. And I'm a sucker for the all-white can like Blackberry Farm or Firestone Lager and the murdered-out black lids on WarPigs.”
John Gross: “Keith Shore is the design mind behind Mikkeller and the reason I have shelves of their emptied bottles on display in my house. He kills it each and every time with standout, fun takes on what a beer label can be. Beyond pretty labels on bottles and cans, Shore also crafts the identity for each Mikkeller bar around the world, giving each a unique twist with big murals and small touches both often utilizing the spunky/simple characters Henry and Sally. He's built a whole lore to go along with the countless diverse beers, and that's a feat. With Mikkeller festivals, brewpubs, screenprinted posters, socks, dolls, and on and on and on, homeboy stays BUSY!”
Andrew Skelton: “Tilted Barn in Rhode Island has some of the best-looking labels that I have seen. It’s incredibly unique and identifiable across the brand with bright colors that really draw you to their cans. Outside of them, I think Modern Times has excellent labels for their one-off releases. They are bright and bold, and the geometric designs behind them really catch my eye.”
Do you have a favorite beer artist or brewery whose aesthetic you can’t get enough of? Join us in the Fervent Few so we can chat about that—and seriously just anything else you could possibly think of—all while supporting GBH’s daily content.