The Craft Beer Aesthetic

Concept beer label by Simon ÅlanderI have to admit, I’m a sucker for marketing.  They say good marketing appeals to our senses… that is true, but perhaps the best marketing appeals to our sense of self.  Truly great marketing makes you feel good about yourself.  You feel smarter, cooler, better, simply by making the decision to buy into whatever it is they’re selling that day.  Of course I’m not the only one… an entire generation of marketing lemmings, commonly known as hipsters, are out there “liking it before it’s cool”. According to authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, in their book Nation of Rebels, “Cool has become the central ideology of consumer capitalism.”

A well-designed package can get me to buy almost anything, and this phenomenon definitely holds true when it comes to beer.  While it’s no secret that the beer industry and product marketing go hand in hand, the craft beer market is introducing a new aesthetic, playing to a… dare I say it?… more sophisticated beer drinker.  When I’m browsing the aisles of our local beer store, a fresh label design will grab my attention right away and, more often than not, inspire me to try something new.  Of course, that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?

So without further adieu, I thought I would run down a few of the craft brews that have caught my eye and found their way to my fridge through the use of nostalgic imagery and nice fonts.  I’ll leave out any personal preferences in regards to taste, some of these listed below have become dear favorites, making it into our regular rotation, while others, sadly, have never been consumed again.

Here are my picks for the top 5 beer label designs:

1. Roc Brewing Co. – Rochester, NY

Ok, so I talk about beer labels and then right off the bat I pick a brewery that isn’t bottling yet, but hear me out…  New to the scene here in Rochester, Roc Brewing is quickly making a name for themselves in the local beer community.  You can find partners Chris Spinelli and Jon Mervine behind the wood pouring their latest brews at their new tasting room located at 56. S. Union St.  These guys really know the meaning of aesthetic.  Everything about the place is a perfect blend of vintage and contemporary styles with just the right amount of whimsical humor.  Not to mention their tasting room doubles as an art gallery displaying the work of local artists. (LOVE THAT!) And I know I said I wasn’t going to talk taste, but we tried their new Belgian Blonde the other night and, you guys… it’s SO good!

Roc Brewing Co.

2. Life & Limb – a Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head Collaboration

Life & Limb is the product of a collaborative effort between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.  It’s a dark beer brewed with maple syrup and, at 10% abv, it packs a punch. The Dogfish Head website explains, “Life & Limb is dedicated to the family of beer drinkers and enthusiasts worldwide who continue to support the little guys, iconoclasts, entrepreneurs, and pioneers who risk life and limb to shape the vibrant craft-brewing community.”  Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind.

Life and Limb - Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada

3. Great Divide Brewing – Denver, CO

The bold typography and simple color palettes are what first attracted me to Great Divides wide selection of craft beers. But it’s more than just the great labels drawing people in!  Great Divide has earned a whopping 17 Great American Beer Festival medals and 5 World Beer Cup awards.

Great Divide - Hibernation Ale

4. Breckenridge Brewery – Denver, CO

When I spotted the screen-printed bottles of Breckenridge Brewery’s 471 IPA I had to have it.  The design on this small batch double IPA is simple, but effective.  Bold typography and clean lines provides that vintage contemporary vibe that I can’t get enough of.  And just a hint: it’s a killer IPA, definitely worth a try if you come across it in the beer aisle!

471 IPA Aggressive Hoppiness

5. Southern Tier Brewing Co. – Lakewood, NY

So here we are at the end of the list with my old favorite, Southern Tier.  Look at this package design… they nailed it.  It’s simple but bold, clean but casual, all words that could be used when describing the brewery or even the beer itself!  And when you see these beers on the shelf, you know it’s Southern Tier.  Cheers!

Southern Tier Brewing Co - 2XIPA

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Categories: The Spirit of Craft Beer

Author:Amy Ellsworth

Amy Ellsworth is The Craft Beer Girl. Follow her as she discovers the world of craft beer through brewery tours, beer festivals, reviews and homebrewing. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and .

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3 Comments on “The Craft Beer Aesthetic”

  1. January 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM #

    Hi!
    I have an AWESOME idea, how about if I actually give you the link I was talking about. LOL!

    Here it is:
    http://www.thedailymeal.com/25-beers-great-label-art-slideshow

    –Beer Girl Says

    • January 23, 2012 at 6:35 PM #

      Ah yes! that helps a lot! There are some great labels there! I especially love the Atlantic IPA, by BrewDog. I’ve also always been a fan of Ralph Steadman’s work for Flying Dog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. January 19, 2012 at 2:26 PM #

    Hi! I enjoyed your article. I, too love the art on beer labels and have a few of my own favorites. 🙂 I though of your post when I saw this slideshow of beer art so I wanted to send you the link. Cheers!
    –Beer Girl Says

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