Möbius Beer

Today is the birthday of mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius, for whom several mathematical items are named, although the most famous is certainly the Möbius Strip. Although the Möbius Strip was discovered by two different mathematicians around the same year, 1858, it bears his name and not fellow German colleague Johann Benedict Listing.

A Möbius Strip “is a surface with only one side and only one boundary,” so that it looks like it turns in on itself, but if you could walk around on top of one, you’d never come to the end. “The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being non-orientable. It can be realized as a ruled surface.”


I recalled seeing a famous beer label using a Möbius Strip, and a quick search revealed the one I was thinking of was Arizona Brewing’s flagship beer “A-1,” which used a multi-colored version.


Beer History has a good article about the brewery, A-1: The Western Way to Say Welcome
by Ed Sipos. The original A-1 label had an eagle on it, but by the 1950s Anheuser-Busch, which was spreading their tentacles nationally, decided to sue Arizona Brewing claiming the eagle on their label was too close to their own, and Arizona couldn’t afford to defend the lawsuit, and decided instead to simply change the label.

A can of A-1 from 1965-66.

And not too long ago, Tuscon-based Nimbus Brewery introduced a new version of A-1 Beer, though I’m not sure if it’s still being brewed.

Apparently there’s also a Mobius Infused Lager that looks like a gimmicky contract beer. It appears to be a generic lager “infused with taurine, ginseng, and caffeine.” Ugh, does that sound like a bad idea.

Harry Potter Beer

Today, June 26, in 1997, the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in the United Kingdom. If that title looks wrong to you, that’s because in America it was titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because the published “thought that a child would not want to read a book with the word ‘philosopher’ in the title.” They may have been right, but it’s still a little sad. At any rate, in the seven novels there was something called “Butterbeer,” described as a drink that “can be served either cold with a taste similar to cream soda or frozen as a slush with a butterscotch-like foam on top.” Basically, it’s fake beer for kids. More interestingly, a Los Angeles artist or designer by the name of Anita Brown did a series of imaginary labels for beers based on the titles of each the seven books.


And here’s each title in order:








A fun exercise, with some fairly clever names. I wonder if the beers she chose would pair with the individual stories themselves? I only read the first two books, but didn’t really care that much for them; they never really grabbed me the way they did a lot of people. Another, somewhat similar, series that was published around the same time, the Golden Compass and the His Dark Materials trilogy was, in my opinion, was far richer and more interesting, but Harry Potter certainly was a phenomenon and anything that gets more people reading is a great thing in my opinion. Happy Harry Potter Day.

Odds & Ends For The Next Session

For 101st Session, our host will be Jack Perdue, who writes Deep Beer. For his topic, he’s asking us to look beyond what’s in the bottle, and to the bottle itself, along with the crown, the label, the carrier, the mother carton and all of the odds and ends, or detritus, that go into the beer’s packaging, or as he explains what he has in mind for the July Session, the “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus,” which he describes below.

There are many great creative people involved in the beer industry: the brewers designing and creating the stuff of our attention, marketers bringing the product to market, graphic artists making the products attractive and informative and writers who tell the story of beer. The list goes on. And thus, many great products, that may or may not get your attention. The focus is on the liquid inside the bottle, can or keg, and rightly so. What about all the other products necessary to bring that beer to you? What about the things that are necessary but are easily overlooked and discarded. This months theme is, “Bottles, Caps and Other Beer Detritus”.

Detritus, according to one definition in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is “miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends”. While the number and quality of our beer choices has certainly improved over the recent decade, have you paid any attention to the rest of the package. Those things we normally glance over and throw away when we have poured and finished our beer. These are sometimes works of art in themselves. Bottle caps, labels, six-pack holders, even the curvature of the bottle. For this month’s The Session theme, I’m asking contributors to share their thoughts on these things, the tangential items to our obsession. Do you have any special fetish with bottle caps, know of someone that is doing creative things with packaging, have a beer bottle or coaster collection.

So drink the beer, but then think about what’s left over when it’s gone.


Let us know about the bits and pieces from your point of view. To participate in the July Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with , on or before Friday, July 3.


Patent No. 2710818A: Method And Apparatus For Simultaneously Washing Containers And Removing Labels Therefrom

Today in 1955, US Patent 2710818 A was issued, an invention of Ralph J. Winters, assigned to Ballantine & Sons, for his “Method and Apparatus For Simultaneously Washing Containers and Removing Labels Therefrom.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My present invention relates to the automatic washing of containers carrying labels and more particularly to a method for simultaneously washing such containers, removing and disposing of the labels as well as apparatus for carrying out the same.

In the art of packaging products, particularly products intended for human consumption, highly complex and expensive equipment for substantially automatically handling the containers has been provided. This is especially true in the brewing industry where machinery capable of handling many thousands of bottles per hour has been provided for automatically washing the bottles. In this industry containers such as bottles are used over and over again. Before each use each bottle is scrupulously cleaned. It is conventional for each bottle to have affixed thereto a paper label which washes off or otherwise becomes detached from the bottle during the washing process and settles downward in one or the other of the compartments of the washing machine. While the machines are provided with a dead space at the bottom of such compartments, nevertheless the accumulation of labels is so rapid that in a relatively short time they extend upward sufficiently far to impede the passage of the bottles. To avoid damage which may result therefrom, it has been customary to put the washing machine out of operation to permit manual cleaning and removal of the labels. Manual cleaning is, of course, time consuming and costly. Furthermore, because of the highly caustic washing solutions commonly utilized, care must be exercised in carrying out the removal of the labels to avoid injury to personnel during the operation.


Reservoir Dogs Beers

The debut film of auteur filmmaker Quentin Tarantino was the violent heist film Reservoir Dogs. I remember being blown away by it when I saw it in the theatre when it was released in 1992, and especially the stylish opening credits scene with the principal characters walking down an alley in slow-motion to the nearly forgotten 1970s hit Little Green Bag by the George Baker Selection.

One of my favorite devices is that the six characters involved in the heist are each given code names so they won’t accidentally reveal their names during the diamond robbery and be able to give away each other’s identities should they be caught. Here’s the main cast, in order of their appearance in the slow-motion opening credits:

  1. Harvey Keitel as Lawrence Dimmick: Mr. White
  2. Michael Madsen as Vic Vega: Mr. Blonde
  3. Chris Penn as Eddie Cabot: Nice Guy Eddie
  4. Steve Buscemi: Mr. Pink
  5. Lawrence Tierney as Joe Cabot
  6. Edward Bunker: Mr. Blue
  7. Quentin Tarantino: Mr. Brown
  8. Tim Roth as Detective Freddie Newandyke: Mr. Orange

Earlier this month, Brazilian art student Peter de Andrade, for a school project created a series of beer labels based on the film, using “cães de aluguel,” which translates in Portuguese to, of course, Reservoir Dogs. The artist created the labels as if they were brewed by the Brazilian brewery Cervejaria Wäls, which each label and type of beer based on the film character’s code name color. As far as I know, Wäls was not involved and isn’t planning on making the Reservoir Dogs beers. Coincientally, there is a Reservoir Dogs Brewery in Slovenia.

Mr. White, a Pilsner

Mr. Blonde, an Ale, presumably a Blonde Ale

Mr. Blue, a Weisss beer

Mr. Brown, a Stout

Mr. Orange, an Amber Ale

It’s a pretty cool idea, and I’d love to see the actual beer made. There’s really only one question about all of this. Where the hell is Mr. Pink?

The Orchid Of Beer: Women’s Beer Circa 1953

I believe we tend to think of marketing efforts to create a beer specifically aimed at women as a more recent development, but apparently that’s not the case. I recently discovered that in 1953 the Storz Brewing Co. of Omaha, Nebraska was trying to sell beer to women using the same tired tricks that are often still being used today.

Apparently, in 1953, Storz created the “Storzette,” a smaller package designed for the ladies to be “calorie controlled” and less bitter, and which also had a pink and lavender package with orchids on them, and whose slogan was — believe it or not — “The Orchid of Beer.” Rusty Cans has the full story, from 2004, of the brewery and this dalliance into women’s marketing.

In 1953 Storz tried to market a new product for women, “Storzette.” Designed to be a beer for the ladies it was supposedly not too bitter and was calorie controlled. It also came in a smaller can, 8 ounces, which Storz called “Queen sized” and it came in four can packs called “Princess Packs.” The brewery noted that market studies showed that many women felt that the standard 12 oz can provided too large a serving. The beer inside was also different, made to be less bitter than standard beers. The can even had a pink orchid pictured on it to help it appeal to women. It’s initial test market results in San Diego seemed positive, but in the end the effort was not successful and Storzette did not last long on the market. As a result, the little can with the orchid is very scarce. Storz also used a slogan on its regular cans for awhile in the 1950s, “the Orchid of Beer” which has to be one of the more unusual beer advertising slogans.

Absent any additional information, I can only assume “Calorie Controlled” is done through offering a smaller size can. Smaller portions equals less calories. Of course, you could just drink less, couldn’t you? The control aspect of their claim seems entirely up to the drinker rather than anything designed by the packaging or the beer itself.


According to orchid websites, the particular type of orchid on the label is a cattleya. Not only do they use a flower, but the color palate is soft pastels, pinks and purple.

8ozstorzette0308 8oz_Storzette_top_with_Cattleya_640px

I presume this is a vintage grocery display using a cart filled with six-packs and surrounded by banners. Notice on the side there’s a gal wearing glasses saying the beer is “Strictly for the Girls.”


And finally, here’s an ad for the beer using an orchid in the advertisement.


Interestingly, a group of local folks from Omaha revived the Storz brand and opened a newer version of the brewery in 2013.

The Battle Over Beer Label Approval

The Daily Beast had an interesting profile of Kent “Battle” Martin, the person responsible for approving every single beer label at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, in Meet the Beer Bottle Dictator. I’d heard of Martin — um, Battle, I mean — before, but didn’t realize he was the only person approving or denying label applications. I think I assumed he was simply part of a larger staff. I can’t say having a single person in charge of interpreting a fairly vague set of laws in a particularly good idea. There have been some very strange, seemingly nonsensical and contradictory decisions over the years, and I’d always thought that was because those were made by various people interpreting the regulations differently, the way the California ABC does, or the arbitrary way that movie ratings are given. I have to say, I don’t think that should be left to just one individual, no matter how dedicated or hard-working, as Battle apparently is, according to the article.


Pixelated Beer

If you’re as old as me, you probably remember when video games had very limited graphics and most were pixelated, only roughly approximating what the characters and backgrounds in the games looked like. I remember getting an Atari 2600 right after high school and playing it a lot while I was in the Army, when we had long blocks of time to kill. Worse still, the very first videogame I played was — believe it or not — Pong, in a stand alone cabinet that was inside Shea Stadium, when my step-grandparents took me to see the Mets play sometime in the early-to-mid-1970s. It must have been after 1972, since that’s when Pong debuted. I was Orioles fan back then — Brooks Robinson was my guy — so I don’t know why we went to see the Mets. Anyway, pixelation seems to be hot again these days in design, some kind of retro nostalgia no doubt. An artist in Spain, Iñaki Soria Izquierdo, did a series of designs of well-know beer bottles using a pixelated style. He appears to go by just his middle name professionally — Soria — and at his site, in his portfolio, is what he calls IcoBeer. I assume because he’s in Spain, the designs are all for well-known international brands, because it would be great to see his treatment of some American brands.
His website includes only the following description:

Pruebas gráficas de representación iconográfica de objetos (Estrella Damm / Heineken / Corona Extra / Guinness) a partir de estructuras y formas geométricas básicas.

Which Google translates as:

Graphic evidence of iconographic representation of objects (Estrella Damm / Heineken / Corona Extra / Guinness) from basic geometric shapes and structures.

But they remind me of those early videogame designs, with just simple square and rectangular shapes, and very few curves, to give the impression of the bottles and labels. Anyway, I think they’re pretty cool. Here are the four designs Soria did:







Estrella Dam


Fairy Tale Labels From the Brothers Grimm

Like most kids, I read (or had read to me) a lot of fables and fairy tales growing up. But a class I took in college on them reinvigorated my love of the genre, and I’ve continued to be a fan of fables ever since. Today, I have about two long shelves dedicated to collections of fairy tales from around the world, including the complete Brothers Grimm and an annotated volume of their more well-known tales. So I was excited to see the labels for the Grimm Brothers Brewhouse of Loveland, Colorado. The brewery opened in mid-2010 but somehow escaped my notice until recently. I don’t know if any of the brewery owners are brothers, or even named Grimm, but I’m guessing not, because their names are not readily available at the website or their Facebook page. But they’re certainly using the mythology of the Grimm stories to great effect in their beer names and especially the artwork, created by Ten Fold Collective, a local graphic design firm.

I just love the graphics for their labels. All of their packaging just looks amazing. I know that good packaging won’t mask a subpar beer for long, but it will enhance a good beer’s reputation and will help any beer stand out on increasingly crowded retail shelves. If their beer is only half as good as the packaging, it should be terrific. But it’s best to find out. Loveland is only about an hour north of Denver, on the way to Fort Collins. I definitely have to make a point to get out there during GABF week next year.

Here’s what the bottles look like, followed by close-ups of the labels themselves:

Snow Drop Honey Wheat Ale


Fearless Youth Dunkel Lager


Little Red Cap Alt Style Ale


Master Thief German Porter


The Griffin Hefeweizen Ale


The Farmer’s Daughter Oktoberfest Lager


And these labels are part of their “Fabled Series.”

The Count Imperial Stout


Big Bad Wolf Sticke Alt Ale


Sooty Brother Gratzer Ale


Weihnachts Bier Weizenbock Ale


Mirror Mirror Imperial Kottbusser Ale



Hare’s Bride Hefeweizen Ale



And this is a special release they did for Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Bleeding Heart Cherry Chocolate Porter


Mockingbird Beer Bottles

Sam Wiley, a Brooklyn-based designer and advertising artist who’s done work for Anheuser-Busch, was asked to create packaging for a brand to be called “Mocking Bird Lager” and “Mockingbird Pilsner.” I don’t know if these were done for ABI – she doesn’t say — and as far as I know, no one has launched this line of beer, so it’s anybody’s guess, but it’s a great looking design. I don’t like clear glass because it’s not good for the beer, but from a purely design point-of-view she used the clear glass and the gold of the liquid to nice effect. I like that they don’t look like typical beer bottle designs and I think as the market gets more crowded, any brand’s ability to stand out on the shelf will become increasingly important.