Beer labels

12 Jul

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I am swayed by book covers, so it probably won’t come as a big surprise that I’m also attracted to interesting beer labels too.  What can I say, I’m a visual gal (needless to say when I first moved to Boston, I was overstimulated by all of the ads on the T, the many billboards, and just the constant advertising being thrown in my face–sadly, I think I’ve grown numb to it).  Here are some beer labels that I’m really loving right now:

I adore Smuttynose’s Summer Weizen Ale for the retro label with the sassy lady in her old-fashioned bathing suit.  It fits with the font and the feel of the beer and I pretty much picked it out at the store because I love that woman and the look in her eye.  The beer tastes excellent as well and was especially tasty after hiking up and down Mount Monadnock over the weekend.  I love Victory’s Summer Ale for all the wonderful summer activities portrayed on the label.  I basically want my summer to be filled with everything good on that label: fishing/eating seafood, camping, boating, baseball, flying kites, BBQs, and ice-cream. I mean, really, who doesn’t want a summer filled with those things? Also, the beer is tasty, light and excellent over ice. Yes, I know I need to improve my beer vocabulary. I’m trying to work on that.

Clown Shoes is another brand I enjoy who has some sassy and memorable labels. In fact, just last week here in Boston there was a bit of a commotion surrounding their newest  beer, Lubrication (see label above). This is also the company who produces another beer called  TrampStamp. Both beers and a third, Brown Angel, have the racy labels to go with the edgy names. Of course they also have some normal sounding beers like Hoppy Feet and Clementine, both with pretty, and pretty forgettable labels. Now, I think this is excellent craft beer and I went to an event where I met one of the founders of this beer, who was a very nice, normal guy who didn’t act sexist towards my two female friends and me.  So, the whole controversy started when a woman on BeerAdvocate posted this article Done with Clownshoes.  Following this posting, there was much fervor and passion from the community especially in the comments to the post. There was also a response from the artist who creates the labels, which I found interesting (note, she’s a female artist): Sometimes a Pipe is Just a Pipe.  There was a ton of other media attention on this, including a clip on a local news station Clownshoes on WBZ.  The one article that really struck me was this one: Clownshoes Beer: The Power of a Polarizing Brand.  To me, this article really made sense. I get it–if you cater your beer label to a generic audience and try to make a “nice” label, you aren’t going to get the rabid following that you might gain if you try something risky.  I admire any company that aims to take some risks with their art–I’d much rather go see a show that a theatre company puts up that has gotten extreme reviews than one that’s gotten mediocre reviews–a show where they try to incorporate something crazy, like an entire set made out of ramen noodles or a show where there’s a live DJ in the background making awesome sound effects. I’d much rather read a book with lots of controversy surrounding it (Hello,Oprah!), like A Million LIttle Pieces by James Frey because I want to try to figure out if I think he’s telling the truth or not.  Anywho, I don’t find the labels offensive and as long as I think they’re trying to sell quality beer and not sexist labels, I’m going to keep buying it.  What do you think?

As I mentioned, I climbed Mount Monadnock this weekend with my dear friend.  Here are two views from the top, one with my feet in it. It must be noted that I need to buy an ankle brace before my next big hike, as I fell twice on the way down.  The first time I caught myself and didn’t get any wounds, but the second time I got some nice scrapes on both legs and a cherry size bump on my knee.  I kind of enjoy getting beat up when I do things outside because it makes me look tough, haha.  Here’s to hoping the other bikers on the road today saw my beat-up legs and thought to themselves, Wow she’s a tough lady and I better steer clear of her!

On a last note, I’ve been looking more closely at beer labels because I’d like to create my own for my future Farbrew–yep, already got a name picked out! 🙂 It might be fun to use some of my photos–maybe I’ll even make my friends dress up in cute outfits and see how that goes.  Any ideas for what I should use on my labels? Also, anyone know how to make beer labels on the cheap–as in on my old canon printer?

5 Responses to “Beer labels”

  1. Brady Walen July 12, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    I’m glad you enjoyed my post about Clown Shoes and the Power of a Polarizing Brand. Your discussion about risk as it relates to other forms of art — including theater and writing, is spot on. Companies should be aiming to create “rabid followers.” Instead, most aim for the middle –the lowest common denominator. What’s the point? Stand for something or get out of the way.

    • mzpinetree July 12, 2011 at 1:24 am #

      Hi Brady, thanks for reading and responding. I really enjoyed your article and I was happy to discover the Crafted site through it. I do a lot of work with small theatre and this is a topic that comes up often and lots of folks are afraid to take risks because they don’t want to lose audience members by being “too out-there”. However, I think we could gain audience members by creating a specific niche. Anywho, I look forward to exploring Crafted more in depth and reading your articles!

  2. Matt July 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I’m not sure how it applies to theatre but for craft brewing it seems to be more about identity than it is about risk. Each brewery has come to find their own style in their labels and (without asking all of them) I bet that relates to their own personal feelings about how they want their image to be. I recently saw some new labels for Red Hook which was one of my first favorite breweries and I found them to be clean, uniform and boring. I like their beer but I never really analyzed their labels. The ones from Clown Shoes have a certain sillyness to them much in the same way as Smuttynose. Meanwhile you have Jim Koch over at Sam Adams who I assume has a serious love for the history of brewing and New England and lets that show in not only his choice of location but also his labels. The labels are a reflection of style, personality, creativity (or lack of), and humor (or lack of).

    On my jog it also occurs to me how this should not be a surprise in the beer industry. I could not think of a single wine label that has a picture. When I think wine I think text and fonts. Wine is more serious than beer and the label reflects it. The industry is trying to change the image of beer but I think it will always be viewed as the hyper little kid of adult beverages instead of the quiet moderate adult. A few years ago we didn’t have beer and food pairings like we do now (and have had for years with wine) but at the core it’s always going to be more about fun and whimsy to me.

    • mzpinetree July 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

      Hi Matt! Thanks for reading and responding. Well, I think identity includes being risky–in both beer companies and theatre companies. I think Clown Shoes wants to be silly and a bit edgy, hence the racy names and labels instead of just all of their beer being pretty “normal” with names like Clementine. Your point about beer and wine is interesting and I think, historically true. However, I think beer has been and continues to become more “high-brow” if you will, especially with the emergence of small, craft beer companies and more folks brewing at home. It seems to me that beer used to be considered a drink that pretty much tasted the same, but now has grown to appeal to a broader audience and to a more specific crowd (does that even make sense??). And maybe that crowd is the kind of crowd who are kids at heart. I haven’t looked closely at wine labels lately, but I do recall having visual reactions to wine labels in the past–I’ll have to look when I’m at the store next.

  3. Felipe December 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    since you like beer labels here is what I started about 4 months ago.
    Its looking good but not being a beer drinker limits my pictures to the beers i find on shelves.

    hope you have like them

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