Art & Craft (Beer)

Art & Craft (Beer)

Although lockdown means we can’t meet up down the pub, we can still appreciate the art & craft of beer. I remember the first time I noticed a shelf of craft beers in my local off-license and thinking wow; firstly at the designs and then at some of the prices! But, let’s concentrate on the labels for this post. As a graphic designer that’s what really matters to me. I know I’ll spend more for great packaging – that’s just who I am.

Seeing craft beers on the shelf next to the usual big beer brands is like sitting next to Tom Jones on The Voice. Ironically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a young hipster swigging a can titled ‘What’s New Pussycat?’  The beers come in all shapes, styles and sizes but have one thing in common – the artwork on each label is usually extraordinary with cutting-edge design dripping with modern aesthetic. The beer writer and consultant Matthew Curtis says, ‘Craft brewers needed an updated image to match the modern flavours in their beers. Breaking with traditional brewing imagery was essential.’

I’d like to share my top five freshest, eye-catching beer labels from designers, illustrators and agencies. In reverse order:

5. Beavertown

These cans perhaps stand out the most with their vibrant illustrative style and matte-finish by their in-house Creative Director, Nick Dwyer. When asked about the skeletons which feature on most cans Nick said, ‘They’re ageless, genderless, sexless, and raceless. We’re being 100 per cent inclusive!’ He’s joking, but it is true.

4. Northern Monk

What’s really great about Northern Monk is the patron’s project which is an initiative set up to celebrate creativity and community between artists, athletes and creatives across the North of England. The labels peel back to reveal images and information about the patron and they never disappoint. Check their stuff out at

3. Printer’s Ale

Traditional styling with a story to back it up is always great to see. This brewery opened in Germany over 200 years ago and they have a full suite of colours/beers including Cyan IPA (pictured), Magenta Amber Ale, Yellow Golden Ale and a Black Porter. Rather satisfying for a designer.

2. Magic Rock Brewing

A real favourite of mine are these colourful, understated but recognisable character based designs by Richard Norgate, Magic Rock’s designer. They’re unlike anything else on the market. You feel bad throwing them away but if you keep empty cans around your flat people do start to question why!

1. Hopfully Brewing Co.

“We love art in general, from graffiti to culinary, that’s why we have decided to combine craft beer with emerging artists. Brewing is an art and we try to be the most artistic we can be, from our branding to our recipes. Art is creativity, innovation, and this is our daily life,” says co-founder, Vilson de Mello. I feel that quote nicely sums up the thinking behind craft beer branding and it’s great for designers and the arts in general.