July 29, 2011

Some Innovation in Craft Beer Design by Sixpoint and Crabtree

Via beernews.org came this announcement from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery:
(Brooklyn, NY) — Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Brewery today announced the “Spice of Life” monthly series of single-hop small-batch beers to highlight the flavors of different hop strains... The grain recipe for forthcoming Spice of Life beers will remain the same, with unique hop strains swapped in each month. As a result, the customer will be able to ascertain the influential character of different hop strains through a “controlled recipe experiment.”
All right, I'm actually not the biggest fan of single hop things. Generally, there's a reason we use multiple hops in beer. But along with this "experiment" came this:

I to say, I love this design piece. A request to the brewery for the designer/firm was not returned, so I don't know who the creative mind behind it is, but it's very well done. The easiest distinction between art and design is that design is function first and aesthetics second; it must first and foremost serve a purpose. This chart has a tough one: visually describing a flavor profile to people who may not know about hops or, worse, may think they know about hops and be wrong. It's a great way to map tastes, and it can be shrunk and stuffed into a pocket beer ratings book for those who have them.

Next we have the most aggressive use of QR codes yet in craft beer labeling, by Crabtree Brewery:

It takes to a page that (at time of posting) says simply "Here is your secret page about beer #1." One assumes that will updated when the label is approved and the beer actually launches.

On one hand, I'm not in love with the total lack of design. On the other hand, I do love the aggressive use of new social media tools, and the idea that the QR will take you to a secret page is potentially quite cool. The Fegleys Brew Works have been using QR codes on their labels, but the nice thing about the size and dominance of this is that it basically demands you check it out. As with all such matters, I will be interested to see what Brady Walen has to say. 

Lastly, some links for you on must-reads/sees:


  1. Greg, thanks for sharing these examples -- especially the Crabtree QR code label. I tend to agree with your view, "I'm not in love with the total lack of design." While I do appreciate the fact that the QR code is the dominant design element here, I'd like to see more. As an example, imagine if there were nothing else on the label (aside from mandatory requirements imposed by law) other than the QR code. Wouldn't that be a hell of a lot more interesting than this iteration? I think so.

    QR codes are good for "unlocking" and delivering supplemental content. In this case, it's as though Crabtree is treating the process like some kind of secret; still, the url is presented below the QR code -- what gives? Shouldn't the user be required to access the content via the QR code scanning device? Again, I think so.

    I do appreciate the focus on the "Digital Age Series." This indicates that there will be additional parts in the series. I'm hoping that the current page for this label ends up giving users a great experience -- as that will be a requirement for this series to gain traction over the course of several releases.

    Now, I'm wondering what kind of compelling content they'll be delivering with this. I suppose we'll find out.

  2. Yeah, this appears to be more an idea than anything else. I think there's a lot of good stuff to be done with QR or, as we move forward, AR (like Layar) on labels, but we haven't seen any craft breweries grab it by the horns yet.

  3. Exciting, isn't it? Just wait until I update the page. So I added the url so those few that don't know (shocking, I know) what a QR code is. I wanted to give them the same opportunity to access the content. Email/call the brewery and I'll fill you in on the project. I can't wait to share this project with you!
    Cheers, Jeff Crabtree.