Craft beer: a growing world of brilliant packaging design

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Beer. This ancient beverage has undergone a true revolution in recent years. With smaller, artisan companies and “microbreweries” popping up all over the globe, the days of Budweiser being the “King of Beers” are long gone, and its simple script typography design is too. Just as craft beer explores new, more experimental flavors, it has opened up an amazing niche for vivid and off-beat packaging design.

The following selection of beer labels and packaging designs is sure to inspire you to grab a pen (and maybe a drink).

Many small breweries, such as 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco (above), have embraced the idea that the complex craftsmanship of their beer should be matched by an equally complex craftsmanship of design. The result: beautiful, finely illustrated packaging that also manages to carry the tone and personality of the company.

The enchanting design for Australian brewer White Rabbit (below) could work as well between the pages of a book as it does on a beer label.

White Rabbit

This winning design by Stefaaan is another awesome example of detailed illustration:

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some companies have embraced an elegant minimalism in their design. Take a look at these three pared-down labels:

Work Beer

From left to right:

1) a concept label naming beer’s four necessary ingredients, this design speaks to the clean, organic nature of the product with its simplicity of design

2) the stylish typography of Kudos beer takes the product away from the typically masculine territory, into a cool gender-neutral zone

3) this unusually shaped label for Work beer takes the form of a thin, angular strip recalling an assembly line or tool kit, and a back label modeled after an old-fashioned hourly punch card. “For a job well done.”

In a similar vein, this design by kreative kreature suggests a clean, back-to-basics sensibility and the following design by elan.noel.design has a funky, old-time feel:

kreative kreature

In between these extremes, there are more styles than we could possibly count. The Soviet poster style of Bear Republic Brewery is a bold example of masculine appeal, and the Jaguar Pale Ale label for Cerveceria Hacienda is a more tranquil but equally eye-catching alternative:

Bear Republic

On the subject of animal-based beer labels, this design for Wheat Monkey by ukreeduk is pretty excellent, too:

Seen any other cool beer labels lately? Share them in the comments!

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Alex contributes from New York City on topics ranging from branding and typography to the history of design.