The Visual Art of Craft Beer Series continues with a look at several American breweries making a name for themselves with more than just good beer – good visual branding. I have already discussed many of my personal favorites in parts one through three. Here, I will take the opportunity to give credit to some really excellent examples that have not yet been discussed.
In Part 3 I mentioned that I very nearly put Half Acre into my top 5 best visual art list. Fort Collins, CO’s Odell Brewing was just on the verge of making that list as well. Pretty much every element of their “look” is impressive. Their logo is simple yet attractive and distinct. Their bottle labels are consistent and beautiful. The website is well done and everything is just warm and inviting. Much respect is due.
Anchorage Brewing Co. has just barely started up their operation but if their artwork is any indication of their quality, they are going to be a standout addition to the craft scene in the Northwest. Gabe Fletcher, formerly of Midnight Sun Brewing, is the man behind this operation. Clearly he has a good eye and knows how important it is to join forces with a competent visual artist. These are some of the most impressive label designs I have ever seen. Touche!
Somerville, MA’s Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is appropriately named. Though their imagery could be considered somewhat nursery rhyme like, and therefore, dangerously near to catering to children (apparently our government doesn’t think so), it’s impossible to deny the skill that went into their execution. But seriously though…how are they getting away with distributing beers called “Baby Tree” and “Fluffy White Rabbits” and Flying Dog is having issues with “Raging Bitch”? Another conversation for another day perhaps.
In an attempt to transition with the up most grace, I believe it is now time to discuss one of the most bad-ass beer labels on Earth. The very exciting Austin, TX brewery Jester King is doing amazing things to combine extreme beers with extreme visual artwork. From punk to metal to ghouls to freakish nerds to some strange bizarre that I can’t even fully grasp, Jester King is downright bonkers. They may be catering to a very small audience with some of these but I, for one, am in that minority and I am absolutely loving it. A trip to the lone star state is in order.
I’ve always been a big fan of propaganda posters, wheatpastes, graffiti…pretty much all things street art. The folks at New Albany, IN’s New Albanian Brewing seem to share this penchant with me. A lot of their artwork has an underlying “war” or “revolution” motif going on. My favorites are the pieces evoking Soviet connotations. The old hammer and sickle will always find it’s way into such works. Industry and agriculture. A classless society. If there is any movement here in America that could parallel this realm, may it be craft beer? Now I need someone to design me a logo with a mash paddle in place of the hammer and a stalk of wheat or barley as the sickle. Get on it.
There are two more pieces of art that I’d like to share in this Part 4. In both cases, the brewery behind them does not necessarily represent an organization with consistent, striking art programs. Each have created one particular logo or label design that I feel very strongly about.
The first is White Birch Brewing from Hookset, NH. They have a very simple, almost nonchalant logo, but I love it. The other is from Bend, OR’s Deschutes Brewery. In this case it’s a beer label, and it just so happens to be one of my favorite beers of all time.
Trees and birds. A recipe for success.
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