It's pretty rare that I'll devote an entire post to one label, but I will for Ezra Johnson-Greenough, aka Samurai Artist, who does work for Upright Brewing among others. You may remember his Four Play label, one of my first posts, that had the topless woman and butterflies on it. His blog recently posted the process work for the Late Harvest seasonal.
The piece emerges as one of the strongest I've seen in the medium, particularly because it achieves a tone and emotion that most beer label art shies away from. Far from a bright juicy hop or an aggressive skull or a colorful attempt to grab attention, the Late Harvest image holds our interest because it engenders real feelings and sentiment that go with the theme of the beer.
Either way, the point is that this does what a lot of label design is afraid to do, which is trust a subdued and beautiful piece to stand out against a wall of bright attention-grabbers. Tough to do, but the Samurai Artist pulled it off, and Upright Brewing ran with it (which is just as important; lots of great label art gets scrapped before you ever see it). Cheers to both parties, because work like this is what inspired me to start this blog.