October 21, 2011

Best and Worst Beer Art of the Week, and A Contentious Week in the World of Craft Beer

So, a busy week, and as I get back up to speed, it seems I need to recommit myself to a return to the halcyon days of writing about label art.

I consulted the best beer minds of my generation,
and then ignored their research. Cheers!
First, there's this whole big deal about the new massive opus of The Oxford Companion to Beer. Every beer blogger worth his salt has chimed in, most unflatteringly. The most damning criticism came from historian Martyn Cornell, who called it a "dreadful disaster" and pointed out glaring, avoidable inaccuracies. It's bad, and  is building into arguably the first real setback of Garrett Oliver's quest to become the face of craft beer. If these other contributors are to be believed, Oliver was given accurate material, and eschewed it for popular myth more than once. We'll see how much sloppiness and wrongness are held against an encyclopedia editor. I understand all of the self-serving bias in the following statement, but: There is a reason we have writers, and perhaps Oxford should have considered hiring one to write and edit its supposedly authoritative book.

Second, Advertising Age had a much-discussed couple of stories about beer, where we were all told "rich people beer" is one the rise. You know how we know? Wal-Mart is bolstering its craft beer selection.

Other things:

  • Joe Sixpack has a nice set of interviews with some women of craft beer.
  • From the "formerly covered by Brady Walen" department: Bomb Lager is giving away handpainted skatedecks for all followers of their social media campaigns. They have 6 decks by four artists, which is pretty cool. Definitely the best "follow us" contest I've seen in the industry so far.
  • Great piece by Patrick on the economics of brewpubs expanding.
Okay, enough of the news.


First, since I can't really rip it, take a look at the new TTB approvals (thanks always to Beerpulse/Beersage/Adam for staying on top of this) for the home draft system that Anheuser-Busch is coming out with:

Great. Shock Top on draft. From a bag. Or something.

Best of the week is twofold, and the first is from the Mexican craft brewery Cerveceria Sagrada, which might be fictional (I can find no online presence outside of Jose Guizar's incredible design), but is still awesome:

He based it on the traditional heroes of Mexican wrestling, known as Lucha Libre.
Lucha Libre is one of the most iconic symbols of Mexican popular culture, and has been exported as part of the country's identity. I created the concept, brand, and designed the identity and packaging for this premium Mexican craft beer. The brand's identity is inspired by the golden era of lucha in the 1950's, when movie heroes were not Superman or the X Men, but El Santoand his wingmen, fighting creepy monsters on a silver '52 Alfa Romeo with surf music in the background. The variety of styles are named after fictional characters also inspired by the 50's lucha style; Black King (Imperial Stout), Blond Gomez (Lager) and The Vampire's Son (Red Ale).
Also, continuing our International theme, we have Wold Top's Against the Grain, from Yorkshire (via Michigan):
Very nice two-color woodcut design. We have a bunny, some birds, offset type, and faint crops. Conveys both a classic agrarian theme and a contemporary mindset. I particularly like the rocky earth on which the bunny and man sit. One question, though: Is the guy very small, or is that a rabbit of unusual size?

Okay, the worst is not actually all that bad, from a design sense. I actually like the Art Nouveu thing in general, and Lazy Magnolia does some nice work. The border, color and font are all very well-done.

But, for the love of God:
If we're going to make every blonde beer represented by a blond woman, MUST SHE NEVER WEAR A SHIRT? Who are these mythical blondes that brewery artists know that run around clad only in their flowing locks? Have they had too much beer? Are they cold? Do they singlehandedly keep conditioner companies in business?

Then there's this, from the great minds at Great River Brewery:
I beg of you, breweries: Stop. Just stop.



  1. Rabbits of unusual size? I don't think they exist.

  2. I never heard of that Garrett Oliver book. And I haven't seen any posts about it until now. And I don't live in a cave and am in front of a computer like 80 hours a week. How can that be possible? Anyway, sounds like a fun controversy that I'll see if I can inject myself somehow.

    Garrett will be in town next week. Would it be worth it to read all the commentary, read the book and go to a free breakfast at Total Wine in Pompano to ask some questions? I've already turned down my invitiation but I'm pretty sure that could be reversed.

    As for the giant rabbit, I feel like the guy may be just a little further off in the distance. And yeah, topless blonde and cock euphemisms need to disappear. Getting really old.


  3. I knew I could count on a Spirko to get any geek references I could muster up.

    @Rob: I would definitely go and see if he takes questions. You can read up on the debate on Martyn's page, and I'm curious to know if Garrett feels like he made mistakes, if it's the publisher's fault, or if he's even aware that people are crushing him.

  4. Particularly enjoyed this post. Laughed out loud at the part about conditioner companies, and appreciated the ending reference to your previous blog. Don't know about Garrett Oliver -- but you, sir, can write.