January 11, 2011

Witches, Skeletons, and Thirsty Icelandic Designers

One brewery, Austin, TX's Jester King, isn't scared away by the Witch's Wit label controversy:
Label copy: 
“The culprit behind the Salem Witch Trials was not demonic possession (which would have been kind of cool), but ergot infected rye. The rye malt and truckloads of hops in this ale won’t likely transform you into a witch, but will hopefully get you to thinking of your own possible transformation. Perhaps into an individual; a free thinker; someone who speaks their mind and follows their dreams. Personally, we’d go with transforming into an army of flying viking-bears, but what do we know?
That ergot theory is disputed, in case you were wondering, and I'm not sure if demonic possession is "cool" (maybe as long as it happens to someone else?), but cheers to them for having a sense of humor. Nice dour-looking Wytch, and I really like the shaping of the label. Sometimes it seems like breweries forget they don't have to use rectangles.

Via the Brookston Beer Bulletin, we have a graphic design fro hypothetical beer bottles:

Jay says:
A quick search reveals it’s mentioned exclusively on graphic design-oriented blogs and websites, so it was most likely not done for a client. It was created by designer Dustin Joyce, who works for a Minneapolis, Minnesota ad agency. I must confess, as others pointed out, that while it’s very well executed, the results are not all that appetizing. The bones appear to be almost floating in the beer, which I don’t think is the imagery you want. It doesn’t make people want to actually drink a beer that’s had bones floating in it, or at least plants the idea of that occurring. But it is an impressive design.
Agreed. I like the different poses of the skeletons. And while I see his point that it might not be appetizing... so much of craft beer marketing is based on eye-catching, and at times icky, identity that I think the market would probably be able to handle it. What do you think? Would it creep you out?

Speaking of hypothetical design for beer, The Dieline brings us Thorsteinn Brewing

"This beer brand concept was born on a sunday night at school were we were supposed to make a brand for a micro-brewery. The name is traditional Icelandic name that could be loosely translated into "thirsty one".
"The concept is a simple one. One beer, 10 different bottle designs by 10 different designers. The design would be changed annually. The design could be put on beer glasses as well. The design is limited to black graphics on a 33cl glass bottle. This was the result from collaboration between three graphic design students at the Iceland Academy of the Arts."
Designed by: Thorleifur Gunnar GíslasonHlynur IngólfssonGeir Ólafsson

I really like the Roy Lichtenstein/Piet Mondrian-esque design here. Nice work that is diverse but cohesive; a tough balance to pull off. The Dieline has a ton of cool stuff. I've been saving a few for a post I'll put up soon. Which segues nicely to...
  • If you're a designer, or if you have contact with your favorite brewery artist, tell them they have one week left to enter the Dieline Package Design Awards.
  • There is a lot of buzz going around about Rock Bottom, the chain of independent brewpubs that was acquired by Gordon Biersch chain. The word is that Rock Bottom's longstanding tradition of great brewing by an independent staff at each branch is going to be kicked to the curb in favor of more central control a la Biersch. Michael Agnew, among others, have urged us to take action. But when one company buys another like this, they're trying to achieve greater economies of scale and centralized control, which means they don't care much what we think. Still, a sad thing for the brewing industry.
  • Reading Premium beer, once made by the now-defunct Legacy Brewing Co., has been saved by Ruckus Marketing (thanks to Jack Curtin for the news).
  • The Pour Curator jumped from 121 to 62 in the Wikio rankings this month. Not exactly phenomenal cosmic power, I know, but quite seriously, I'm honored that you all are reading. Thanks to everyone, and I'll try to keep you reading in 2011. As always, feel free to send work you think I've missed.


  1. I actually like the skeleton design. The first thing I thought of was a skeleton trapped in a bottle, which is a very cool concept if a real life example offered the same optical illusion as bottle #1. Unfortunately the next thing I thought was that these need to be clear bottles to pull this off. That drastically increases the likelihood of spoiled beer.

  2. I would agree about the clear bottle. Also realize it's just a concept...because if it was real the image would get completely disjointed rolling around the bottle and up the neck. It looks great straight on...but at other angles probably not so much. _DFH

  3. Good call David and Tommy. I can't think of an enameled bottle with a design that snakes around, and those reasons are likely why. Especially given how little control a brewery has over how it's stocked in a cooler, this would be tough to use effectively in reality.