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The Visual Art of Craft Beer Part 3 – Crafty Cans

Half Acre stands out above the rest

The Visual Art of Craft Beer Series continues with a look at some fancy artwork emblazoned on aluminum.  As the ‘craft beer in a can’ craze continues to spread across America and competition increases, we can only assume to see better and better examples of impressive design.  These producers are already competing against most if not all of the macro breweries, as well as attempting to differentiate themselves from sodas, juices, energy drinks, wine (see example here), and sometimes even spirits (see example here).

For me, the clear winner in this category is Half Acre Beer Co. from Chicago, IL.  Their extensive collaboration with artist Phineas X. Jones is awe inspiring.  I very nearly put them in my top 5 for artwork in general but I left them out mostly due to their relative obscurity.  Not all of their beers are released in cans, but all of their beers have rad logos.  The designs are so impressive in fact that you can buy prints of them on the brewery website.  I don’t know of anyone else doing that in the beer world.

21st Ammendment impresses

Another brewery that is kicking some serious ass with their can designs is 21st Ammendment.  The label to the right is full of character and is hard to miss on the shelves.  I’m a huge fan of the Bitter American art as well.  Monkey in a space suit?  Gets me every time.

One major challenge for those that can in tall boys is to differentiate from energy drinks.  In the case of Minnesota’s Surly Brewing, it appears as though they either didn’t get the memo or they are purposefully mocking the system.  I, for one, have always thought that Surly has one of the very best logos in the business.  Partially because of that and partially because I think the over-all, over-the-top design is equal parts outrageous and hilarious, I’m a huge fan.  Judge for yourself.

Oregon’s Caldera Brewing is another caner that truly stands out.  I’m especially fond of the Pale Ale can.  The bright print is layed out on an all white backdrop which allows for the design to pop off the shelves.  The multi-colored rays of the sun that wash across the logo are nearly as intoxicating as the fluid housed within.  Brilliant work.

New England Brewing - How high are you?

New England Brewing’s Sea Hag, Gandhi-Bot and Alpha Weizen are all really well designed and visually stimulating cans.  That Gandi-Bot concept is not only visually stimulating but stimulating in other areas as well…like, the outer reaches of the mind.  Were psychedelic drugs involved in the brainstorming process?

Sun King Brewing has a really cool Native American theme going on and their tall cans are surely worth noting.  The Wee Mac label looks like it might house a Mexican iced coffee, but it’s definitely beer in there and it’s definitely unique.

Colorado just might be the nation’s leader with most breweries that can their product.  For me, Ska Brewing stands out amongst them.  Modus Hoporandi kills with it’s three skull-faced skankers and Mexican Logger reminds me of a video game cover.

One brewery that is very close to my heart that cans is PA’s Sly Fox Brewing.  My lovely sister just sent me a 6 pack of their IPA in cans a week ago from her new home in Phoenixville, PA.  I desperately missed the beer and I love the cans.  I’m most fond of the color scheme of Weisse but they are all pretty amazing.

When it comes to cans with bad-ass mythical creatures on them, Mexico’s Cerveseria De Baja California is a serious contender for victor.  Cucapa Chupacabras Pale ale is a real goat sucker of a label.

The Brewer’s Art may only can one of their beers, I’m not completely sure, but Resurrection has a really classy and sophisticated label that I absolutely love.  If there were any small breweries in Belgium caning, they would wish that they had designed this first.


Through my research for this article I came across a few sites that were very helpful and/or worth checking out.  I’d like to share them here.  One that you can’t miss is here.  It displays a bunch of cans designed by a firm called Ramm-ND and it’s INSANE.  Please, please take a look.

Two great reference site are CraftCans.com and Artzberger.com/BeerCans.

For visual examples of labels discussed but not displayed here, please see out photostream on Flickr here.

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