Brewing the Perfect Craft Beer Label


With the explosion of new craft beers, it is more important than ever for a beer label to stand out on the shelf

BY: Shay Harbaugh

There is a story behind every craft beer, but you don’t have to open a book to read about it. The story is on the bottle itself; The Beer Label. Like all stories, you have an author, “the brewer”, someone who has a story to tell, and then you have the artist, “the graphic designer”, someone who designs the book cover for your story. Over the years the craft beer label has also become more than just about telling a story, it has evolved into a piece of art and many craft beer lovers have become avid “art collectors”. Instead of throwing away the bottle many keep them purely based on the look and design of the label and even display it in their homes.

Even though a brewer hires a designer for the label design, their professions have a lot in common. In fact, a craft beer and graphic design go hand in hand. A graphic designer puts just as much detail, craftsmanship and creativity into a design as a brewer puts into his beer. From a simple typography layout to a very detailed painterly illustration, so much goes into the design of a beer label. A designer will do research and spend hours sketching and coming up with a concept that will fit what the brewer is looking for in a label that also fits his brand. The design in some shape or fashion must also communicate the style and attitude of the beer itself.

With increased competition, beer labels are becoming more and more creative.
With increased competition, beer labels are becoming more and more creative.

The designer takes into consideration not only the quality of the ingredients, but the story the brewer wants to tell with his beer. Whether that story is about fantasy, history or even science fiction it can be told through the art/design on the label. In turn, that design helps in the marketing of the product.

With increased competition between brewers, it has become even more important for the design to stand out on the shelf among the other packaging. This is called shelf appeal; when a product’s packaging is very successful and draws the consumer in solely based on the merit of its design. It’s these innovative label designs that are also helping a craft brewery go up against larger beer corporations.

So when picking out your next craft brew, keep in mind why you are selecting it. Is it the taste of your favorite beer? Or is it really the unique illustration on the packaging, the feeling you get when you look at the label or the story that is being told?


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