I first noted Austin, TX's Jester King Brewery last August, with their distinctive label shapes that wrap all the way around the bottle and their cartoon characters in circular frames. They've had a bunch of new ones out since then, and I thought we'd take a look, particularly with regard to the use of an ideology as brand.
For the non-beer readers, you should be aware of an ongoing debate in craft beer, which is that of style guidelines. Beers win awards at major festivals/contests by being "true to style," which is to say conforming to the agreed-upon definitions of what makes, say, an American Pale Ale taste like an American Pale Ale. Some breweries, such as, say, Brooklyn Brewery, make beers that are generally very true to style. Some people within beer believe that these styles are important and guide the industry, sort of like the DSM in psychology. Without some objective criteria, the reasoning goes, we can't really be anything more than a group of amateurs all guessing at things. On the other side of the debate are brewers who say style guidelines limit brewers, reward precision over creativity, and are still subjective depending on the judges. If you'd like, you can consider the adherence to style the side of our brewing that comes from Germany and the Reinheitsgebot, and the anti-style side that of Belgium, where the only style you need is flavor and 800 years of history.
Jester King is on the latter side, and has turned jabbing at style into a big part of their brand.
First, the Bonnie the Rare, a Berliner Weisse:
|Thank you for being a friend...|
Next up, the Mad Meg:
|This looks like none of the Megs I've ever known.|
The Thrash Metal, which uses the Iron Maiden/Bruce Dickinson text, goes so far as to start crossing out style descriptions:
Since we haven't gone nerdy enough, the Das Wunderkind!:
|Those goggles let him see beyond IBUs.|
Lastly, the Noble King:
|The hop lion is as delicious as it is adorable.|
Jester King remains a good example of a well-branded, consistent brewery when it comes to mission and design. After Rob's report, I would be interested to hear if the finished bottles look as good as these digital versions, so please chime in on the comments or the various social media avenues.