June 10, 2011

Student and Concept Work

There's certainly plenty of good design out there in the professional craft beer world (lord knows my backlog continues to grow), but it's worth looking every now and then at some of the standouts from the huge amount of student and concept work that is developed without the fetters of a client.

As with all such work, we're looking at ideas, not feasibility of the product. It pretty much goes without saying that a lot of this would not be usable for a craft brewery of normal budget without heavy alteration.

"Publican Brewing Company," designed by Daniel Rodriguez and linked via LovelyPackage:
Rodriguez taps into a very classic look, down to the wooden crates in which some bourbons are sold. I think there is probably a niche for a brewery that would like to develop a steampunk-based brand (as opposed to Dogfish and others that use it selectively for some things), or for one that delves hard into pre-industrial revolution nostalgia. The problem is that this specific is a little too hifalutin, without much of a sense of humor, and it feels stuffy to me without a real brand with insanely good beer to justify it.

"Bearded Lady Microbrewery," designed by Christopher George and linked from his Behance site:
There's more good process work to be found on the site. I like the splashing of color on pen-and-ink, Edward Gorey-esque work. It keeps it from being morose like Gorey's, but still makes the line-driven work the point. I'd be interested to see if there could be label design that incorporated inconsistent splashes of color, so that the yellow circle in the "Crystal Ball" label, for example, would be slightly different in every label? Might work with a limited edition.

"William B. Allen Family Tradition," designed by Trace Thoma and linked via TheDieLine:
Thoma does some actual industrial design work, re-engineering the six-pack brilliantly. Now, I have no idea how well this would hold up in actual use, but I will say that the traditional six-pack is dying for innovation. I understand the realities of die-cutting, but it's not a particularly wonderful design right now and there's a lot more than can be done with it. Hopefulle work like this will encourage some reinvention in the industry.

"MUG Pub" designed by Ivan Maximov and linked via TheDieLine, also looks at this same issue:
Very cool, though this raises even more issues of usability. I dig the whole soup-cup beer vessels, but there would need to be some thought put into how to drink from them. The most intriguing part of this is that it allows for a six-pack-to-go from draught beer, something that currently does not exist and that would be a HUGE boon to drinkers and bars alike. Right now, we've got growlers, which are flawed in many ways (such as the fact that you have to want to drink a gallon of whatever beer you're buying, meaning you've had it before and you know you love it and you can drink a ton in rapid succession).

"Un Peu Beer" designed by Sanyukta Kothari and linked via the Behance page: 
From the designer:

“The dessert beer is called Un Peu, French for ‘a little’, which is exactly how an indulgence like this should be. It is bottled in small and slender 180 ml (6.3 fl. oz.) bottles, a size carefully chosen based on the unusual product category. It is also packaged in 2-packs, rather than 6-packs, as it is... a dessert beer, that calls for a more sophisticated and intimate drinking experience. Like a special date, with a close friend, or over fine conversation late into the night. Drawing from the rich, warm colour palette of the Moulin Rouge and the ostentation, the label graphics depict the heady crescendo of flavours in the beer. The type is inspired by the French Art Nouveau typography of the late nineteenth century, and has been re-drawn and embellished to fit the modern context. The 2-pack has been designed to resemble a bag, perfect for gifting.”

Interestingly, we haven't seen much "dessert beer" marketing, which is a bit surprising. Part of the problem is revealed by an error Kothari makes in her description of the target market:
Beer connoisseurs, cocktail drinkers, the adventurous and non-conformists, the hedonists. For people who like to sip their drink slowly, and savour it, and enjoy it in the company of close friends at a hip nightspot or even at home. 
The problem is that "beer connoisseurs" are not generally "cocktail drinkers" looking for a "hip nightspot" or dessert beer. Of course, many are (like myself on occasion), but generally the concept of flavored beer is one approached with wariness by craft beer people here. The largely male core market likes hops and big flavors, so a product like this could be hugely effective in growing the craft beer market, but would likely not be a turn-on for the existing connoisseurs.

"Skylab Brewing Company," designed by Jessica Lutcza and linked via Oh Beautiful Beer, features a combination of shaped packaging and use of 3D glasses to bring out the space-age theme.
I think the six-pack holder is the strongest part of this, though there's something retro about the paper red-and-blue 3D glasses that makes me think anything but futuristic. Maybe, once 3D technology in TVs becomes more popular, there'd be a way to incorporate that.

Then, sometimes, a student spotlight makes a valiant effort and totally misses the point.

"Arrogant Bastard" by Thanh Nguyen, is a revamp of the classic Stone Brewing beer in a variety pack to combine the three varieties available:
Let's assume that by Pale and Strong he means regular and Double bastards. The idea has real merit; it's an iconic beer in multiple forms, so a neat-looking variety six pack could well be worth thinking about for the folks at Stone. But the whole identity of Stone Brewing Co, with which we might assume Thanh, as a Cal-Northridge grad, would be familiar, is the opposite of this clean, refined look he's given it. It's a neat exercise, kind of like seeing what it would look like if Garret Oliver ran Stone for a day, but it's so completely off-brand that it's amusing.

And, to tease the coming post on the Weyerbacher redesign, we have a student attempt at it from Madaline Moninghoff of Syracuse University's design program (linked via TheDieLine):
From the designer:
No matter how hard your day, Weyerbacher takes the edge off. Located in the rustbelt of Easton, Pennsylvania, Weyerbacher brewery provides local, great tasting beer. The re-branding of this microbrewery showcases the history of Easton and the unique beer that is made there. The design includes historical stories about men from the Easton area and what they went through. This links the present day local beer drinker to what happened in their town years ago.
The only problem, of course, is that Easton is not in the Rust Belt. I actually kind of wonder if she knows where Easton is (on the border of New Jersey, across the Delaware from Phillipsburg), since this would be a fantastic campaign for Penn Brewing or Iron City or Reading Premium or Yuengling or Straub, but for Weyerbacher it makes close to no sense. Easton is mostly a college town and, while the downtown has some blight, it's definitely less post-industrial than almost all of the other towns in Pennsylvania. Even Bethlehem, right next door, and Allentown, just beyond, it's Lehigh Valley neighbors, have significantly greater industrial histories than Easton, whose commercial success was tied much more to the river and canal than mills or mines. Also, Dan and the Chrises at Weyerbacher make sophisticated, bold, often high-abv beers that millworkers would find bizarre.

All that said, the use of a community and old photographs as the basis of a beer's brand is a fantastic idea. There's not a ton of photography used in beer design (Smuttynose aside), and this is a nice way of using something different and tying local history in. Brooklyn is doing something like this with the High Line, but that's more glamor with a bit of history than deep embracing of a community. New breweries could really think about a jazzed up version of this as a good way to establish roots quickly. 

1 comment:

  1. Cool post, your blog continues to rock!