November 29, 2011

Books About Beer and Design

My sources tell me it's a holiday season, so I figured I'd give you a quick rundown on some beer/design books I've read recently:

You can't click to look inside.
I hotlinked from Amazon.

  • For those of you shopping for the aspiring homebrewer, I just picked up William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill's Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer (Rodale, $17.99). There are certainly more comprehensive guides to brewing and beer, but there are none that are easier to read and enjoy. It's colorful, extremely well-designed, and features good quotes by big name brewers, conversational language, and engaging design. It's also - and this is important - small. The taxonomies and infographics make it a nice pocket guide to beer ingredients, even when not brewing. It's a perfect book for a beer geek who is thinking about brewing some batches and wants to understand the process better, or someone like myself that has done a bit of brewing but wants a handy way to read and look up some of the more technical information. It's also on sale right now at Amazon for around $11.
  • For those shopping for the more experienced or just more hip homebrewer, consider Brooklyn Brew Shop's Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches by Erica Shea and Stephen Valand (Clarkson Potter, $19.99). The book, by the owners of the Brooklyn Brew Shop, focuses on making beer in small spaces, and organizes some very interesting recipes by season. Like Beer Craft, there's a heavy design focus in this book. Instead of color, the design emphasis is on simplicity and readability, and it is a very handy guide and reference. It can certainly be a guide for beginners, but the recipes are different enough that a vet could still find it valuable. Also on sale, around $13.
  • On a design front, my father just gave me Simon Garfield's Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (Profile, $27.50). It is delightful, and one needn't be a design geek to love it (my father, for example, is not what one might call design-conscious, but since reading can't stop talking to me about Helvetica and Gill Sans). It is engaging and extraordinarily well-designed. The Introduction by Chip Kidd alone is awesome, and it makes a great gift for damn near anyone. Amazon has it for around $16, or $11 in paperback.
  • Lastly, I did receive the Oxford Companion to Beer, and have finished reading a good bit of it. It is every bit as wonderfully written as I had imagined. I know there are fights over facts, and they haven't stopped. Roger Protz chimed in with an ill-intentioned diatribe against its critics, and various others have weighed in on the side of the "bloggerati" or "the treasure trove," but most reasonable people, I think, feel as I do: It is an excellent, engaging, ambitious work that is generally very well-executed, with some unfortunate historical inaccuracies made slightly more high-profile by author Garrett Oliver's unwillingness to acknowledge and apologize for them. Actually, reading it has kind of heightened my sadness. I just wish Oliver had come out and, instead of casting the debate as one of adults who respect progress versus childish bloggers who hate books, said "Thanks so much for all of the input; we're all in this together. Clearly we made some errors, and I made some mistakes editing out historians in favor of popular legend. I'll make sure we take care of it in the next edition." Thankfully, we have Alan to take care of us all. Still, though, if someone you know loves beer and doesn't have this book, get it for them. It's down to $26.
Some news and notes:
  • Apparently we're setting records on label applications to the TTB.
  • Nebraska Brewing Company and The Bruery showed us all how to be really damn cool about copyright. Instead of lawsuits, they made a joke out of it.
  • There have been another rush of release events, some of which went badly. Pelican had one where the phones went down and disaster ensued. More locally, Weyerbacher's Idiot's Drool release party went so badly that owner Dan Weirback issued an apology. By contrast, the Victory Dark Intrigue release went smoothly and successfully. Adam Nason aka Beersage has put together a modest proposal of a way breweries can manage these events better. I think it's worth following. One brilliant member of BA suggested that brewers should never have to apologize for design, and I think that person is a moron. If you pitch a massive event for which people show up at 4:30 am and will shell out a lot of money, you have a responsibility to be prepared and make the experience as positive as possible. None of this is rocket science, but it's worth pointing out that demand does not increase along a linear path, so breweries are often taken by surprise. For example, Weyerbacher had a release a couple months previously that was nowhere near as crazy, and there was no reason to believe a mad rush would occur. Then they apologized, and they'll do better next time, so I'm not sure what more people want from them. But still, the moral of the story is that breweries should probably plan for the crowds, rather than risk angering fans.
Art:

New work from Arcadia:
Very nice warm color palette and throwback style to old-school travel posters. Compositionally we see that nice rule of thirds with the pouring fountain and the woman forming the poles. The yellow sky and green mountains in the backdrop help the nice bright image pop out.

Also good stuff from New Albanian. I think the artist is still Tony Beard:
All of their stuff is a bit dark and intense, and this is no different. I love the paint splatter and the snowy floor on which the Valkyrie flies in. The path of fire and the spatter and the asymmetry give it a real violence and sense of dramatic movement.

Beard's stuff will be in the running for Best Beer Art of the Year. Start thinking (and feel free to share) about your recommendations and nominees.

November 24, 2011

"We exist so that every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge."

Ed. Note: I first published this on Thanksgiving two years ago, on a now-defunct political blog. It is topical again, and my support for the cause remains undaunted, so I am reposting it with minor changes and a short addition at the end. If you read it then, my apologies for the redundancy.

In the third century before Christ, a man named Demetrius of Phaleron had a modest goal: Collect all of the world's knowledge. He learned to dream big from his teacher, Aristotle, on whose Lyceum Demetrius modeled his own little building. It was the first ever attempt to gather books from other nations and cultures, an unprecedented effort to reach beyond the learning of a specific empire.

Courtesy of take a frikkin' guess.
For hundreds of years, Demetrius' project made Alexandria and Ptolemaic Egypt the center of scholarship for the ancient world. The architecture he borrowed from the Lyceum is similar to that found in many universities and colleges today. Until 642, when some think an Arab army sacked it, it was home base for some of the greatest scholars who ever lived.

For a geek like me, Demetrius' dream is about the coolest one a person could ever have. Regardless of your personal or spiritual point of view, the sharing and pooling of knowledge is one of the few purposes that - I am fairly certain - is a sacred one. So I'm a fan of people, places and things that devote existences to that noble end.

I was able to tell you all of that stuff about the Library at Alexandria not because I know that type of thing off of the top of my head, but because Demetrius' effort has been reborn today. We call it Wikipedia. Thanks to the wonders of ever-increasing technological capacity, an army of passionate volunteer editors, and what Wired editor Chris Anderson called "the long tail" of knowledge, we are closer to collecting all of human knowledge than Demetrius could ever have dreamed.

Why do I bring this up?

One, because I wanted to post something a little off-beat before Thanksgiving, and a tract about how we built a country on myths about how we didn't try and exterminate the American Indians would be too big a downer. And because we're at a point when Wikimedia is asking us for help, in the form of money.

Wikimedia is the nonprofit organization dedicated to - among other things - collecting all of human knowledge and making it accessible on the Web. And for those of you still huffing that it's not verifiable, I direct you to the study showing Wikipedia to be as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittannica. Yes, it is imperfect, but our recent debates on the OCB show us that all attempts to collect knowledge are imperfect. Of course, it's not the same as primary research, and I wouldn't suggest citing it in articles for peer review, but it does currently have over 3.8 million articles in English alone, and is a source of comprehensive information of which Demetrius of Phaleron could only have dreamed.

So, since it's that time of year, I thought it was worth pointing out that I'm thankful for this modern Library of Alexandria that is so easy to take for granted. As someone who uses it at least once a day, I felt compelled to send them a small amount of money as a donation. After all, it takes some money to run the largest repository of knowledge in the world on less than 100 employees. And, as I mentioned, it's run by a nonprofit, which means it relies heavily on donations from users. Like many "long tail" campaigns, Wikipedia needs major donations less than it needs many small donations.

Above the shelves in the Library of Alexandria was carved an inscription: "The place of the cure of the soul." A bit dramatic, perhaps, but it alluded to the fact that knowledge can be a soothing balm for those of us living in uncertain times (as if there are any other kind). Wikimedia has taken that place of curing, and moved it into every living room and coffee shop in much of the world.

So I encourage you to take a few moments and go donate a few dollars to Wikimedia.

In my niche of craft beer, there is a site that is just as - if not more - indispensable, and just as easy to take for granted. That, of course, is Adam Nason's beernews.org, a repository of all beer news and TTB label approvals, sprinkled with insightful analysis when appropriate. Adam's site is ad-supported, though I know it has required significant investment on his part, and I do not believe he is getting ready to retire to his yacht and mansion on the proceeds just yet. Supporting him is as easy as a few clicks around his site, doing the whole like/follow/sharing of content, or patronizing one of his retail supporters. Unless you're the type with a business looking to reach a craft beer audience, in which case you could do a lot worse than advertising with his site.

In any case, I know many (myself included) spend a lot of time bemoaning the state of journalism, politics, the Earth, etc. It's easy to forget that information is now more accessible than it has been at any point in human history. Whether looking up the inscriptions in long-gone libraries, or trying to find the most offensive design that got slapped on a beer bottle this week, the only barriers to learning are the limits of our time and aspiration. We've got a lot left to do here, but that is one hell of a start.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 22, 2011

More Stunning Artwork by Stillwater Artisanal Ales' Lee Verzosa

Okay, I've been saving them up to a point where I can't justify holding back any longer.

Readers of this blog know that my big beer art crush is Stillwater Artisan Ales, from Baltimore, and their label work by tattoo artist Lee Verzosa. It won best art of 2010 here, and honestly I'm considering a ban on repeat winners just to prevent him from becoming a choice every year. But I probably won't.

What follows is a bunch of his work from 2011. Prepare for gushing art geekery.

This is his most recent work, for Bronze Age. Those new to this art will see the pen-and-ink main elements over a watermarked, earthtoned backdrop that is the main composition for Stillwater and Verzosa. The style/motif is almost always a Gothic/Edwardian one, conjuring images of monsters and gaslit laboratories. Also, while there is the occasional move to literally display the beer's name, usually that is eschewed in favor of just putting some great imagery evocative of a character or theme, as we see here. There is no bronze or tools, but instead a binding of fingers, over a faded image of a brain flanked by grain sheaves. What we get is a feeling of a primitivism, which of course fits the idea of "bronze age." One could argue that the bound hand is not as skillfully rendered as could be (the fingers seem a bit too short), but I think it lends itself to the off-putting sense of monstrosity the image gives off. It we're picking nits, I'd focus on the fact that the foreground hands don't pop as much from the backdrop.


The label for Derviched leaves our Gothic theme and trades it for a messed-up mythological one. Here we have something like Adam and Eve surrounded by symmetrical crowds of unruly classical characters. The two wearing animal skins and bearing clubs are threatening, and the tenor of the agitated crowd is palpable. Look closely at the garden behind Adam and Eve; the foliage is vaugely distorted, and there's a skeleton with a scythe wandering through. This visual mashup certainly manages to be off-putting.

Back to some of those old-timey figures we remember so fondly from the Of Love and Regret label. Instead of plotting murder, we've got two ladies throwing down on a field of blood-spattered red. The amusing take on "Debutante" is driven home by the label over the watermaked woman's eyes. The fact that it's so off-center gives the fight a sense of realistic dynamism; the falling woman really appears to be dropping into our field of view. Like many Stillwater offerings, this was brewed and bottled as a collaboration, and the logo of the collaborator, The Brewer's Art, is well integrated into the background.

 In the label art for Folklore, the foreground element is distinguished not by darker lines, but by a striking color change and the fact that only he gets to be three-dimensional. As the angry, creepy jester-satyr steps over the Stillwater ribbon, staining it red on the way, he appears to be reaching out at us. Meanwhile, a closer look at the background reveals it to be without any coherent perspective, heightening the contrast of the main character with his subdued environment.

I have to say that the Jaded is one of the weirdest labels here (that's a good thing). We have a Edwardian/Victorian female figure looking at herself in the mirror, but she's distorted, perhaps by her clothes or perhaps by the rendering. Her arms are too big, her head too small, her waist almost nonexistent before bulging out into a mass of cloth that far too closely resembles organs for my confort. Two skulls look up at her, and a net of tentacles comes out from behind her in what might be a beast lurking or a signal to us that this person is way uglier than we think. The screaming medusa heads around the frame only make it less comfortable. Again, there's a great contrast between red and blue here.

Lastly, we have the tamest of the labels, the green Rule of Thirds. It appears to be a very straightforward, non-grotesque piece with a Van Gogh-like scene in the background. The rule of thirds refers to an art composition term used mostly in photography and design, which holds that ideally, compositional elements  divide a canvas three equal-sized fields horizontally and vertically. Here, Verzosa has literally divided the canvas up with those lines behind the main elements of the image. In a way, he's showing us a playbook for creating this piece: the Stillwater ribbon is along the bottom axis, the Rule of Thirds ribbon along the top, extending out from the woman's eyes. Vertically, the axes are tied to the highest points of the Stillwater ribbon, the end of the woman's face, and the word "of" in the upslope of the top ribbon. Wonderfully technical and enlightening as a process work. Worth remembering: This is on a beer bottle.

Of course, this style only works with Stillwater's brand. Owner Brian Strumke, a "gypsy brewer" who rents unused time in facilities to make beer in Europe and stateside, continually makes complex, interesting beer for those interested in some of the more high-end, subtle aspects of beer. He doesn't have a flagship golden or pale ale; he has farmhouse style beers that often defy style characterization. Because of that, he can afford to have art that is challenging, opaque and even unsettling, in a way that Sierra Nevada never could.

November 18, 2011

Best and Worst Beer Art of the Last Two Weeks, and Help Lew Bryson Get a Show

I was out in the woods (literally), and limited Internet access cost me a week of blogging and my chance in Jay Brooks' survival league.

But art!

First, check out this wonderful installation piece done by Red Stripe and a Japanese sound artist Yuri Suzuki:


According to PSFK,
Inspired by the resourcefulness of Reggae musicians, the Japanese artist set about creating a sound sculpture using thousands of collected Red Stripe cans. Working alongside Australian designer/illustrator and maker Mathew Kneebone, Suzuki turned 5,000 cans into a fully-functioning sound system. London DJ/mixer/masher Al Fingers and singer/songwriter Gappy Ranks then teamed up to create music on the sculpture.
You can also find a nice video of the process on PSFK's site.

More good beer art? Well, okay. From Smuttynose, we have the Satchmo:

As you can see, it's brewed with mushrooms (?) and aged on oak. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but I like the brown gradient with the label-maker text. It's ever-so-slightly off-center, with a little extra on the right side, and a fairly adorable little squirrel (?) on top. It conveys an earthiness without seeming dirty, which is what I'd want for an oaked mushroom beer.

On the negative side, we have, well, this:
Lew Bryson, to whom we shall return in a moment, has a lovely takedown on this new product, which is a high-abv version of Bud Light, and is marketed as "craft beer" and a "trendy blue-bottle line extension."

First: No, it's not.

Let's not even address the idea that craft drinkers will like this. Instead, let's focus on the idea that this is a marketing triumph.

Blue is not particularly trendy. It's a color, and this shade isn't terrible, I guess. The "Platinum" font is contemporary and could be the same as that on a lit sign of the coolest club in town five years ago. The halo around the platinum (aka gray) vertical bar is kind of exciting, in a strip joint sort of way (and I thought that before Lew wrote that the element itself resembles a stripper pole, an image which I can not now unsee). The use of the awful Bud Light logo at the top totally ruins any chance of this label looking anything like the sleek, modern appearance for which they are shooting. Instead, it looks trashy, and more designed to compete with malt liquor 40s than the craft segment.

Some notes:
As promised, we return to Mr. Bryson. Clearly, someone thought that what my life needed was one more project to champion on Kickstart. So he's trying to make a TV show, and the pilot/teaser appears to be the Stoudts. The aforementioned Jay Brooks even created an epic work of art to show what Lew's success would make him to the beer blogging world:
Speaking of images I can't unsee...

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "Bryson? Isn't he that irresponsible, anti-government, big-beer-hating, alcohol bigamist with too many blogs?" 

And the answer is yes. But I think we can all come together and agree that Carol Stoudt needs to be more heralded, and this seems like a great way to do that. Also, he's wished me happy birthday on Facebook for two years straight! 

So go kick some money at Lew's project. There's a recession on, and people need to be told about good beer.

November 8, 2011

Cigar City Label ExtravaCANza

No, I could not leave that pun alone. Thanks to a great interview over at CraftCans, we have some great design news from Curatorial fave Cigar City Brewing. The Tampa, FL brewery will be canning soon, and they released some can-ified desings:

Let's remember that the Pour Curator's rule of good can design is that one should use all of the space one has. The difference between cans and labels is that a can gives you 360 degrees, and treating it like a tiny rectangle cheats one out of canvas.

So let's look first a the Florida Cracker wit and the Hotter than Helles lager

Both of them start with designs that are fairly basic, and just embrace the concept totally. By expanding the background into a massive color field of a complement to the color of the band and text, the elements pop and look clean. It looks like the wit background might have a touch of visual sandy texture, while the Helles mostly wants to scream loud, hot colors. The "back" panels are also clear and readable.

Right, but what more can we do? Well, let's look at their fan favorites Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown.

If you're a reader, you know I'm excited about this. The bright green hops of the Jai Alai form a rich forest background that extends through the entire can. It screams verdant energy, and combines with the striking yellow bands to make us expect some really flavorful hops. The Maduro, on the other hand, uses a blanket of dark brown tobacco leaves (maduro being a dark type of cigar wrapping) and a muted beige on the bands to convey a sense of rich smoothness.

Russ from CraftCans interviewed CCB designer Geiger Powell, and of particular deliciousness was this question:

(CC) As the designer of Cigar City's cans. What was the biggest challenge? What about the benefits of the can as far as graphics go?

(GP)The challenge was to come up with designs that popped as well as spoke true to what the beer inside is. We went over tons of prototypes before settling on where we are now, which is more closer to our bottle designs. The benefits of the can is being able to completely cover the vessel with our design. This creates a much more eye-popping product.
Cigar City also has a couple new designs out for their collaboration with Swamp Head:

Since the main design elements are pictures of famous dead WWII leaders, it's hard to say much about them. But the nice sepia shading is consistent, giving it a historical feel and a deep, rich character. The off-center composition and the shadowing of the leaders gives it a nice dimensionality.

Lastly, the Ligero, another cigar named beer.

Ligero is a type of cigar filling leaf that is usually a bit stronger and slower-burning. It also means "light" in Spanish, so there's perhaps a bit of wordplay happening here, since a black lager is generally a beer lighter in body but dark in appearance. I like the weathering on this label and the sharp-eyed, cigar-chomping dude staring out at us. That font is kind of a Courier spinoff, adding to the old-timey feel of the label.

November 5, 2011

Best and Worst Beer Art of the Week, from the Makers of Chick Beer

Best beer art of the week comes to us via Oh Beautiful Beer, and it's a private label for Puma by Brewers and Union called Kreechr:

The postmodern-misspelling-slash-Harry-Potter-reference name aside, it's very cool design. Significantly more menacing and foreboding than other attempts at Kraken-releasing booze design. The red tentacles give it a vibrance and activity fitting for an activewear brand, but the willingness to have a big black color field and the small white lettering give it an appropriate off-putting, ominous feeling.

The worst comes from Minhas, the same people who gave you Chick Beer:
Bland, boring, with "feminine" colors and a gratuitous cartoon girl in short flowey dress. Are uptown girls somehow associated with that attire? When I think uptown, I think little black dresses and high-end jewelry; she looks more at home on a patio. Also, I defy you to carry a beer glass like that without dousing yourself in fizzy yellow mediocrity. Lots of floral curls in the background, along with strange washout vertical stripes. A warm sunspot dead center totally defeats the white outline of the red lettering (aslo, the red-orange background doesn't help). There's a hint of serif on the font, but not enough to make it serious. And, just in case all of that wasn't enough for you, we have a factually inaccurate "COOL TO THE LAST DROP !" on the left for no reason at all (I guarantee you, that last drop is only cool if you drink it really fast, which, to be fair, you probably are encouraged to do). I guess Minhas has adopted Coors' strategy of treating "cold" as a flavor.

News and notes:
  • If this week seems light it's because I was celebrating a birthday with good friends and some rather old wine. Yes, I drink that, too, and yes I put that in just to make you jealous. But while prepping I heard a rumor that Weyerbacher is getting ready to unveil their new logo, something a few readers chimed in on this week in response to the post. I'll be watching.
  • For those of you into the PA privatization fight, Lew has been tearing things up over at Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished.
  • Flying Fish, on their move to Somerdale NJ (and nice piece of art trivia by Jeff in there)
  • That whole Dogfish 75 Minute thing was just label text. But we're losing Squall.
  • So I won some swag because of a not-that-impressive but sincere comment I left on the blog of Wolverine State Brewing Co. owner Liz aka The A2 Beer Wench. She just hit 60K pageviews on her blog, and all of them are deserved. As I said in my congrats comment, she is basically the one blogger who both consistently imparts interesting information (about opening a brewery in her case) and never takes herself too seriously. Worth adding to your RSS feed or inbox if you have any interest in the industry or just want something that is guaranteed to be a fun read week in and week out.
That's it for now. Lots of transitions for the Curatorial staff this fall, so thanks for being along for the ride. Have some music, and stay strong.

November 1, 2011

A Conversation on Rebranding a 15-Year-Old Weyerbacher with Josh Lampe

I noted a some time ago that Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton, PA is undergoing a brand facelift. I noted that some time ago, because the rebrand has been going on for some time now. While many of the specifics are not yet ironed out, I was very interested in the process of a rebrand for a brewery as venerable as Weyerbacher, so Josh Lampe of SSM Creative sat down to talk with me about Weyerbacher, the challenges of rebranding, and consulting in the beer industry. I had been waiting for an unveil to have some things to pair with it, but as this interview is already a couple months old, it seemed time to get it up.

For those unfamiliar with the brewery, they are an odd case: They specialize in big beers (Founder Dan Weirback considers 6% a session beer), with complex, interesting flavors that remain remarkably drinkable. Their best seller is their Belgian Tripel, followed by the Imperial Pumpkin Ale.. Their Imperial IPA is the Double Simcoe, maybe the piniest beer you can imagine. They have several barrel-aged beers in rotation, and are constantly experimenting with flavors, though "extreme" would be a tough word to apply to them because of the balance that marks so many of their beers. They have a tendency to tack into the wind, producing a braggot when the rest of craft beer is cranking out saisons, and producing a restrained, delightful Belgian Pale Ale (the Verboten) at the time when everyone was adding Belgian yeast to their hoppiest IPA.

Perhaps most strangely for a brewery with the consistently high level of quality that Weyerbacher has, the brewery seems most beloved by those outside of its immediate environs. I've heard a number of theories on why that is, but everyone in the area seems to agree that Weyerbacher has more success outside of the Lehigh Valley (which, despite being the third-largest area in Pennyslvania and in the beer-crazy Philadelphia market, has only one other brewery right now) than they do in it.

From a branding perspective, those qualities - which make the brewery such an interesting one to beer connoisseurs - are also serious challenges. It's an interesting time for Weyerbacher. By craft beer standards, they've been around for a while, but they are entering a time of what could be great expansion.

Lampe said that, like most startup breweries (certainly of that time), the focus for the early then-brewpub was on beer and running a restaurant, with less of an eye toward branding.

"Dan  had an idea of what the brand should be, but that never got fully formed."

What's resulted over time is a brand with label design and art that - in this blogger's opinion - is usually good but ranges wildly from product to product.

For example:
The Blithering Idiot has the Jester that has become a kind of logo for Weyerbacher. The design is nice and clean, if a bit dated, with a clear style.

The Merry Monks is probably the closest thing they have to a flagship beer, but it is only a little similar stylistically to the Blithering Idiot.

This beer label is not bad for what it is (pictures of hops), but it could be from a totally different brewery
Then there's this, which is probably their strongest label to date, but again is tough to connect to an overarching brand.

"There's not as much consistency as we would like," Lampe said. "[Our goal is that] Every time you see a Weyerbacher, you know it's a Weyerbacher."

Lampe and company have spent the last several months defining the brand, interviewing brewery employees, and doing market research.


They've identified key elements to the brand as: "Bold, inventive, groundbreaking"

"We want to have the artwork and brand itself be representative of that," Lampe said."I don't think it's going to be anything like what you've seen yet."


Since SSM Creative started working with Weyerbacher, we've seen two new labels come out, both for large, higher-end beers. While neither are necessarily part of the rebranded Weyerbacher, we can draw a few things from them:


First, the obvious: There's a paring down here. We've lost those cartoonish faces and characters, and these are simpler, bolder, and unafraid to use negative space and asymmetry. The white-on-dark even gives it a feeling of almost imposing starkness, which again makes sense for the big, bold beers of Weyerbacher's limited releases.

Both labels also give us a sense of trying to draw brand connections. The Idiot's Drool is a barrel-aged version of the Blithering Idiot, and the font has been lifted directly. The Rapture has an outline of what definitely looks like the jester, perhaps being whisked up in the rapture? Subtle references, but again we can garner an idea of where the creative minds are going.

Lampe did say that there is unlikely to be a vast departure from the basic character of the brewery, which has a devoted following and established place in the beer scene.

"The last thing we wanted to do is come out with something different and slick that turned people off," Lampe said. "People are really starting to perceive Weyerbacher locally as just the high quality it is."