Anchor Christmas Label Art Video

Anchor Brewing has a fun new video up about the artist who’s drawn nearly all of their Christmas Ale labels, Jim Stitt.

Anchor Brewing Company tells the story of our label artist Jim Stitt. Jim has had a hand in nearly every Anchor label since the 1970’s and hand draws a new tree each year for the Anchor Christmas Ale Label. Jim Stitt, Fritz Maytag, and Dave Burkhart collectively tell the story of a huge part of Anchor’s history.

A few years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle had an article about Stitt, as well.

I love seeing which tree is chosen for the label each year and seeing the new poster showing all of the ones done since the beer debuted in 1975.

This year’s tree is a Norfolk Island pine. According to Anchor, “Captain Cook discovered this South Seas isle and its native tree in 1774. These tropical-looking conifers, which thrive in sandy soil and coastal climes, were first planted in California in the 1850s.”


Cheap Beer Label Quiz

I got an e-mail today from someone at Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper, letting me know about a quiz created by their beer columnist Marc Bona. It’s a fun one, asking you to identify 31 labels from budget, or cheap, beer brands. It shows each label or can, with the name removed, and then you have to choose from a long list of possible answers. I got 94% right (which I believe translates to 2 wrong) and, be warned, there are some regional brands that may not be as recognizable to a national audience. You can take the Budget (OK, Cheap) Beer Label Quiz and it will tell you the percentage you got right, but you’ll have to wait until August 1 to find out all the answers. How many did you get right?

Loving the White Rabbit

We all know good labels, packaging and artwork can help a beer sell. I may not like that a mediocre beer might sell better than a great one if it has more eye-catching artwork, but it happens all the time. It was especially true in the early days of craft beer when many people who were passionate about the beer they were making believed that was enough. They thought all they had to do was make great beer, and people would buy it. And so a lot of good breweries failed for no better reason than they weren’t good businesspeople, as well as good brewers. These days, as we close in on the 2,000th American brewery, most brewers now understand they have to do something to get noticed on the shelf. Good beer in the bottle or can will undoubtedly keep people buying your beer, but you have to get them to try it first. And so most at least try to be clever, artistic or interesting with their packaging. If they have the means, they hire inventive, capable people and agencies to help them.

As an unabashed art lover, a great label or package will impress me. As I’ve said, the beer inside ultimately has to deliver, but great art is an all but necessary first step. That said, I recently came across some of the most impressive new art for a beer I’ve seen in a long time. It’s for an Australian beer I’d never heard of, which makes sense since it’s brand new. It’s a new, separate brewery launched by the Melbourne brewery Little Creatures. It’s located in Healesville in the Yarra Valley, in Victoria, which is in the southeast corner of the continent of Australia. Victoria is the smallest Australian state and Melbourne is its capital.

The name of the brewery is the White Rabbit Brewery. (Note: their website was up and running yeasterday, but today is not.) The Facebook page, however, is working. The design for the beer that a design agency, BrainCells, came up with is just brilliant. This was their mission:

Little Creatures Brewing in 2009 commissioned the White Rabbit Brewery in the Yarra Valley Victoria. The new initiative is focused on delivering a unique dark ale using traditional European open fermenters that bring mysterious wild yeast character into play. brainCELLS was asked to develop the brand look and feel representative of the product, the region, and the eccentricity of the process.


I may be biased, I love rabbits. Always have. I’ve owned a few as pets over my lifetime. And it also doesn’t hurt that I love the works of Lewis Carroll, have a daughter named “Alice,” and my son’s first stuffed animal was a white bunny named “bunny” I bought him his first week (and which is still his favorite). Truth be told, my first stuffed animal when I was a kid was also a rabbit, but it had a much more embarrassing name, one that no amount of beer will ever ply from my lips.

Still, it’s such a beautiful scene, with the white rabbit jumping through the hop forest. It looks great on the six-pack carrier and the bottle, as well. If you look closely, you can see the rabbit is in a different spot on the bottle than the side of the sixer.


And below is the packaging for the white ale, which is ironically a night setting, while the dark ale is a daytime scene.


Even the glassware is cool, using a clever, and simple, two-fingered rabbit hand as a logo. It’s one that’s immediately recognizable.


I sure hope they paid as much attention to the beer as the design for the packaging. If the beer is even half as good as the artwork, it should be terrific beer. If anyone in Australia wants to send me some of the beer, or can tell me how to get some, I would be a very happy camper. I am loving the White Rabbit.

Next Session Explores Whether You Can Judge A Beer By Its Cover

Our 55th Session takes a look at Label, Coaster and Cap Art. Our host, Curtis Taylor at Hop Head Said …, expounds on his topic Label, Coaster and Cap Art, and describes how to participate:

On September 2, bloggers from around the world will converge at HopHeadSaid to write about the fabulous world of beer art found on coasters, labels and caps. I am guessing that I am not so different from other beer enthusiasts – I like to collect beer labels, bottle caps and coasters. I think they are perfect souvenirs from beer travels or drinking sessions. Judging by the size of my collection you could say that I have had many enjoyable drinking sessions over the years!

Now it is time to dig through your stash and share your favorite label, coaster or cap art.

Posting Directions:

  1. Choose your favorite label, coaster or cap art.
  2. Scan, download or take a picture of your label, coaster or cap art.
  3. Write a paragraph that explains your affinity to your entry. Your explanation can be as shallow as or as deep as you want.
  4. If the brewery name or beer name is obscured be sure to label your entry to give credit where credit is due.
  5. Please limit your entries to commercial examples. Homebrew labels will be a topic for another session.
  6. Extra karma points will be awarded to those who write about two or more categories (label, coaster or cap art).
  7. Post your blog entry on or before Friday, September 2, 2001 and e-mail your link to curtis [at] hopheadsaid [dot] com.
  8. Alternate posting method: Post your picture and explanation on my HopHeadSaid Facebook page and I will copy your post to the “official” location.
  9. I will collect the entries throughout the day and post them on this page: The Session: Label, Coaster and Cap Art.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but what about a beer by its label, crown or coaster? Let us know what you think for the next Session on Friday, September 2.

Area Code Beer

After Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s recent acquisition of Goose Island for just under $40 million, it seems they may be taking a page from the Chicago microbrewery’s success. One of Goose Island’s most popular beers is 312 Urban Wheat Ale, named for the Chicago telephone area code.

Officially known as the Telephone Numbering Plan, it was first implemented only in large metropolitan areas in the late 1940s, and was nationwide by 1966. Until the number of area codes exploded due to fax machines, beepers (remember beepers?) and then mobile phones, many cities became closely associated with their area codes, being recognizable at once to anyone in the know. Thanks to such positive associations — not to mention being a tasty brew — Goose Island’s 312 became their best-selling beer, especially in their local market.

It appears that ABI is hoping such positive associations with local area codes will work as well in other cities as it has in Chicago. Earlier this year, in May, they applied for a federal trademark for the area codes in fourteen metropolitan areas. So far they’re seeking a trademark for 202 (Washington, D.C.), 214 (Dallas), 216 (Cleveland), 303 (Denver), 305 (Miami), 314 (St. Louis), 412 (Pittsburgh), 415 (San Francisco), 602 (Phoenix), 615 (Nashville), 619 (San Diego), 702 (Las Vegas), 704 (Charlotte), and 713 (Houston). I’m a bit surprised that both New York (212) and Philadelphia (215) are both missing from the list. Both seem more well-known to me than several on the original list. So far, there’s no information about ABI’s plans for the trademarks, whether it’s to market the Urban Wheat branded for specific markets or to do different beers in each city. But it’s certainly possible we could see some version of the beer below at some point in the future. Stay tuned.


Broken Bones Beer Bottles

I think this is merely a graphic design product and not a commercial product that you can buy. I came across it by accident at Street Anatomy, a blog featuring anything to do with skeletons. A quick search reveals it’s mentioned exclusively on graphic design-oriented blogs and websites, so it was most likely not done for a client. It was created by designer Dustin Joyce, who works for a Minneapolis, Minnesota ad agency.

I must confess, as others pointed out, that while it’s very well executed, the results are not all that appetizing. The bones appear to be almost floating in the beer, which I don’t think is the imagery you want. It doesn’t make people want to actually drink a beer that’s had bones floating in it, or at least plants the idea of that occurring. But it is an impressive design.


Odonata Website Launched

Sacramento’s newest brewery, Odonata Beer. Co. — recently founded by formed Sacramento Brewing’s Peter Hoey and former DRAFT magazine beer director Rick Sellers — has just launched their new website, which for months has been essentially wallpaper. For updates, there’s also the brewery blog, too. You can also get a look at the now-approved label for what they hope will become their flagship beer, Saison Ale. It’s great to see things moving forward. Hopefully there will be beer to fill the bottles with those label very soon.


Redesign Newcastle’s Label

Whatever your feelings about Newcastle Brown Ale, it is perceived as one of the classic English brown ales and its label is one of the most recognizable.


So I was surprised to see that Newcastle is sponsoring a contest to redesign their iconic label. The contest is known as Your Beer Your Label and gives you two ways to create a new label, either using their online label generator or download a template and have at it with your favorite graphics software (or at least Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop).


The Online Design Tool is actually pretty fun to use and you can do quite a bit of manipulation using it, as evidenced by the many submitted designs.


Unfortunately, the contest ends tomorrow, so if you want to play around or submit your own, you better get cracking.


Though you can still look at the submitted designs and vote for your favorite until the end of March.


Though in the end I wish they were going to do a run of bottles with the winner’s design or, better still, with the top few vote-getters. I think that would have been cool. But instead all the winners get is displayed on Newcastle’s website which seems like a pretty poor payoff for all the effort.


Oh, well, perhaps it’s just as well, as despite some very cool label designs submitted, the label below is currently at the top of the heap with the most votes cast. I guess that either says something about human nature or the demographics of Newcastle drinkers.


Canadian Iceholes

If you’re a regular viewer of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, then you’re probably already aware of his mock feud with Canada over ice time for the U.S. speed skating team, which the show sponsored after the team lost its long-time previous supporter due to the economy. The Colbert Nation stepped up and donated thousands of dollars so the show could become the new sponsor. Colbert has featured the team on the show repeatedly. He also featured a story that the Canadian team was in some way keeping the U.S. team off the practice ice, though I can’t recall the exact details of the dispute. At any rate, in response, Colbert launched the Don’t Be An Ice-Hole campaign and even set up a Facebook page.

Now a Vancouver microbrewery, R&B Brewing, has released a new one-off beer, just in time for the Winter Olympics and playing up the feud. The new beer is Iceholes Celebration Lager.

According to Vancouver’s Scout:

For limited release only, Vancouver’s Local Microbrewery, R&B Brewing Co. introduces Iceholes Celebration Lager in response to the recent “Don’t be an Ice-Hole” campaign against Canada started by Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Barry Benson, co-owner of R&B Brewing Co. says “ We are proud syrup-sucking Canadian iceholes. In celebration of our icehole-ish behaviour we have decided to get even rather than get mad. Canadians can wreak their revenge against Stephen Colbert in a truly Canadian way and have a beer.”

R&B Brewing Co. Iceholes Celebration Lager is a medium bodied beer, gold in colour with a spicy aroma. Brewed in the tradition of a European Pilsner, Iceholes Lager has a snappy hop flavour and a clean dry finish creating a truly refreshing beer. Iceholes Celebration Lager will be available in 650ml bottles for a limited time only starting February 2, 2010. Consumers can purchase the specialty beer at independent beer stores and local Vancouver restaurants during the month of February.

To which I can only add, as Stephen Colbert would, U-Ice-A! U-Ice-A! Now that’s great marketing.