There’s nothing quite as satisfying as two art forms working together to create something unique, especially when those art forms are beer brewing and graphic design.
Intricate illustrations, vibrant colors, and irresistible branding that's truly a work of art to be appreciated- beer bottle labels and beer cans are fantastic opportunities to exercise some serious design talent and showcase beautiful art!
Beer branding is an exciting space to play in. Craft breweries, in particular, tend to be very collaborative and eager to incorporate multiple elements of art and design into their brands.
In this article, we'll share our favorite beer packaging with you, as well as offer a few design tips if you're thinking about designing your beer label. Grab a cold one and settle in.
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Awesome beer designs for inspiration
Check out the list below to learn more about breweries creating some fascinating beers and designs. These breweries value art and design and have been highly intentional with their branding. Some of them create admirable projects by supporting artists, illustrators, and graphic designs, and you might just be motivated to make a beer brand of your own!
You've probably heard of the infamously crazed author Hunter S Thompson (or at least seen the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on his book). You might also know about Ralph Steadman, the friend and illustrator who depicted many of Thompson's tales in true Gonzo-style madness.
Hunter S Thompson lived just around the corner from the Flying Dog Ranch, where the brewery was founded in 1990. Thompson befriended founder George Stranahan, eventually introducing Ralph Steadman, who created the original flying dog beer label artwork.
The first label he created was for the Road Dog Porter, for which Thompson wrote an essay titled "Ale According to Hunter."
Vibrant colors and twisted, surreal imagery spill from the labels of Flying Dog beer bottles, staying true to Steadman’s original style to this day.
Under creative director Adam McGinnis, in 2012, Flying Dog rebranded the label designs, ensuring alignment with Steadman’s illustration style while simplifying where possible to do the artwork its proper justice while creating something new.
“We stand for the relentless expression of our art,”
This American craft beer is an ultra-fruity sour blonde ale aged in oak barrels with nectarines, peaches, and spices. Almanac uses fresh produce from local farmers, so they wanted to highlight the fruit as center stage in the label design.
Created by DKNG Studios, this design does an incredible job of interpreting the beer style. Organic farmlands are lit by the golden California sun, illuminating a giant nectarine that gives an element of whimsy to the beer.
The font and contrasting color combinations give the label a retro feel, and the curves of the font follow through into this beautiful bottle design.
Foam brewers have excellent design work for each of their beer releases, including a blank white label called "canvas" for their pale ale.
Collaborating with different artists for unique designs is central to the brand and a fantastic way of bringing the two art forms of beer design and graphic design together while giving artists exposure.
It’s worth checking out their Instagram to see more labels!
This minimalist design makes a brilliant beer label and captures the sake-inspired Saison beautifully, which is described as "bright, crisp, and clean."
Japanese lettering, a crisp blue can, and a distinct red circle work together to visually capture the Japanese aesthetic and the dry, rice-infused flavor of the beer.
Powerful design elements in the form of lettering, symbols, and colors have a lot of impact and work well in a minimalist context.
"Extra Dry is an abstract can, but it’s transportive for people. It looks like it tastes. And it’s very unusual on the shelf. That’s the sweet point to telling a story: Giving someone something that’s unexpected but still understandable."
Garage Project is another craft brewery that emphasizes art to make cool beer labels. They have a ton of beer releases, all boasting fantastic artwork and creative beer names.
This particular design is ridiculously vibrant and a great example of maximalism in design. The intention is to be overboard, and it's working for this beer (sometimes overboard is just overboard- you've got to choose your moments).
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The beer is described as delivering "electric citrus sourness with an aromatic flavor burst of floral, grapefruit, lemon, and spice."
The most central part of beer label design is to capture the essence of the beer itself through the artwork. The flavor, aroma, ingredients, and process all play an essential role in determining the style of the artwork.
The art for Electric Dry Hop Acid Test is credited to Pablo Espinosa.
These guys are big on bringing experimentation to their brewing. They recognize the combined artistry and science that it takes to create original beer. This is beautifully represented in the packaging.
Each beer label has a unique geometric pattern bursting with color that captures the flavor, the feel, and the science of the recipe, with a creative beer name that brings it all together.
Halo Brewery's website gives detailed information regarding each beer and the brewing technique, with awesome recipe infographics that capture the scientific element of their branding.
This Portuguese microbrewery developed a unique visual identity based on inspiration from the mystique and taboo, looking to tattoo design and tarot cards for inspiration.
Graphic designer and illustrator Filipe Holman conceptualized engaging and complex characters that transport you to the unique, imaginative world of Roco craft beer.
Yoho is one of the most renowned craft breweries in Japan. Their Belgian-style white ale is named "Suiyoubi No Neko," which translates to "Wednesday Cat." It was created to celebrate "hump day."
The charming cat featured in this label has become adored across the country and beyond, proving the success of character creations, mainly based on animals, in packaging design.
So, this beer comes wrapped in an aged map. Yep.
According to the website, it's
"Inspired by the ill-fated expedition of the HMS Bounty, Mutiny is a very South Pacific take on an export stout, brewed with breadfruit, roasted plantain, coconut sugar, toasted coconut, and Tahitian vanilla."
Designed by Paul Tobin and Tim Gibson, the artwork of this dark beer truly creates an experience from start to finish. Revealing. a beautiful navy and gold label underneath the parchment, the dark adventure of the sea is captured.
Hacienda Beer Co has some cool beer labels that communicate a certain light-heartedness through color and illustration style. Their label for "False Assumptions," a double IPA bursting with summer-inspired notes of strawberry and peach, is particularly eye-catching thanks to the lavender color wrapped around the can.
As far as colors for beer cans go, this fresh and striking shade of purple is pretty out of the box, making it that much more appealing to craft beer buyers. You can't help but want to know more about it when you see this striking purple popping out from an Instagram feed or a liquor store shelf.
Illustrator and graphic designer Spencer Jackson created this beer label design. Their distinct combination of grungy illustrations and bubbly pastel colors has been featured on various Hacienda beer packaging.
This is a beer that tells a story. Mother's Brewing Ozarks style wheat ale captures the story of the "cobra scare" in Springfield, Missouri, in 1953, when residents had to fend off 11 escaped Indian cobras.
This wheat ale "with a bite" commemorates the event in the brewery’s hometown and is a remarkable example of branding and design interacting with local culture.
The action-packed design, created by the agency Whisky Design, is full of intricate detail referring to the event, including residents armed with garden tools and newspaper clippings!
And the best part? The beer packaging also includes a glow-in-the-dark feature!
Ok, this one's technically not a beer, but the artwork is so incredible we had to feature it. Plus, the cider label design is very similar to beer label design, and there’s a ton of fantastic cider packaging artwork out there.
Brook's Dry Cider features a bear driving a car, riding a motorcycle, a bicycle, and a spaceship.
Artist Luke Dixon took a minimalist approach to the design that works beautifully against the clear bottle housing a light cider.
The ink drawing style is authentic, and the character is irresistible. Creating characters to go along with drinks is an extraordinary approach to branding that's a surefire way to connect with customers.
Each of Commonwealth Brewing's beer releases has a beautiful packaging design. "Mano Del Puma" is a super light Mexican cerveza, the essence of which is captured in this photographic label that depicts a bird's eye view of the ocean.
Deeply satisfying to hold in your hand and incredibly pleasing to the eye, this creative design has our vote!
Collective Arts is a community-driven and creativity-inspired organization making an incredible effort to support artists and designers through the beer industry. The artwork in the featured image above is by Maia Faddoul, whose feature you can read here, and many other artists.
"Collective Arts fuses the creativity of craft beverages with the inspired talents of artists from around the world. We feature limited-edition works of art on our labels, and we work to make sure the liquid on the inside is as diverse and creative as the artists we profile."
Another fantastic example of how collaborating and combining crafts builds momentum and inspires people to create more and create better.
It's worth checking out their Instagram and online store to learn more about the artists and browse the collections.
Firestone Walker fermented their first beers in wine barrels and made an effort to incorporate the local wine culture into the beers.
Rosalie experimented in combining all the desired characteristics of a Rose wine into a beer, and it shines through in the label, which features the characters “Rosalie,” while capturing colors of rose wine and hibiscus flower.
Vibrant colors, intricate illustrations, and otherworldly imagery grace the labels of Hudson Valley Brewery beers.
Another brewery that values art as a vital part of the brand has put out some cool beer labels that experiment with minimalist and maximalist designs.
"Archangel" by artist Evan M Cohen captures this particular release's marmalade flavor, orange Pez, and bazooka bubble gum. It beautifully compliments the beer color while leaving you with the feeling that some divine being brewed the beer. The design of the label is available as a print on their site.
At the other end of the spectrum, the highly minimalist, ultra-sleek black and white packaging of "Feel no way" works equally well in exuding a feeling of luxury and exclusivity.
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Cans from evil twin brewing have some pretty exciting labels as well as beer names. If there is a golden thread throughout their branding, it would be something along the lines of celebrating the random joys of the everyday.
They make excellent use of photography in their label designs, each telling intriguing stories in combination with beer names like "I've been missing my mom's spiced blackberry cobbler."
Connecting with customers through storytelling is a surefire way to create success in a brand.
How to create your own custom beer label
You can easily design your own custom label right at home with the right graphic design software. You can take on the design project yourself or hire a graphic designer to work with.
Vectornator is the perfect software for this design project, especially if you're a startup craft brewer who doesn't have that much to spend on design.
Vectonator is free and equipped with plenty of advanced features, so it's the perfect software to experiment with while creating professional-grade vector designs perfect for beer label printing!
Here are some simple design tips for creating your craft beer label from scratch👇
1. Establish the brand identity
Creating a brand identity comes down to the feeling you wish to convey through style, imagery, wording, and coloring.
Is your craft beer brand about being fresh and summery? Or is it grungy? Maybe it's bright and vibrant, packed with maximalist illustration?
Brand identity is an inspiring opportunity to get creative, especially in the craft beer industry, where you have the license to be edgy and incorporate an artistic approach.
Some elements to think of when establishing a brand identity are:
- The feeling - how do you want customers to feel when they interact with your brand
- The logo
- The tone of voice - what does the brand sound like? Quirky? Serious? Crude?
- The colors
- The style of images
- The lettering and fonts
A great way to get started is by creating a mood board. For your beer brand identity, you'll be focusing on capturing the beer itself’s flavor, feeling, and process.
2. Establish the dimensions
When you, or a designer, start creating the label in a graphic design software program, they will need to know the label’s dimensions.
This will depend on the packaging as well as your design ideas. You will have to know if you're packaging in a bottle or a can, as well as the size of the bottle or can. You'll need to know the dimensions of that packaging as well. A professional designer will be able to help establish dimensions.
3. Consider which information to include on a beer label
Label design always needs to include information. You'll have to consider making room for things like:
- Beer name
- Product description
- Alcohol percentage
- Place of origin
- Health and safety warning
- Type of beer (e.g., pale ale)
- Net contents (e.g., 1 pint, 0.5 liters, etc.)
If you look at various beer labels, you'll find that some choose not to include much information, and some do. It’s up to you what you wish to have and what you think will be beneficial to the customer, and what the law in your local area requires. Make sure to check out the legal requirements!
4. Decide on images
You might want to include images in your beer label design. As you'll know from the list above, images make the beer packaging engaging and are often an excellent opportunity to collaborate. You'll have to decide on the style of the images you want- illustrations or photographic? Perhaps geometric and abstract? Your mood board will help with this.
5. Decide on wording
Don't forget the copy! Your wording plays a vital role in the brand identity and design. Not only will the words you choose to use be necessary, but you'll have to make provision for the wording in the design. Perhaps the words and imagery will work together, or you might want to keep the language as minimal as possible to accommodate expansive graphics.
The fonts that you use play an essential role in the design! Make sure to choose fonts that communicate the feeling and style you decide on in establishing the brand identity.
Ready to start designing?
Designing beer labels is a lot of fun and an excellent opportunity for collaborating and combining the art form of brewing beer with the art form of graphic design. It's the perfect opportunity to think outside the box.
If you design a beer label with Vectornator, we'd love to see it! Share your design with us, and we might share it on our social media platforms.
Don't hesitate! Download Vectornator today and get started on your beer label design!
Jumpstart your ideas with Linearity Curve
Take your designs to the next level.
Ben is a Content Lead for Linearity living in Berlin. His hobbies include board games, cooking, reading, and writing.