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.


Evolution Of A Beer Label

Below is, as far as I know, the most recent label for Budweiser, updated in 2000. We all know that labels change over time, sometimes dramatically, but usually more subtly with just small tweaks from time to time. But even small changes over a long period of time become dramatic in the long view. So this is a fascinating peak into those changes.

Etiquette Systems, a label manufacturer, has an online gallery showing what they call the Evolution of America’s Most Famous Beer Label. It shows a dozen different versions of the Budweiser label, from the first 1876 version up to the 2000 latest one, with all of the changes in between.


Anchor’s Christmas Ale Artwork

The Monday before Thanksgiving is the traditional date that Anchor Brewery used to release their Christmas Ale (a.k.a. Our Special Ale), undoubtedly the first annual holiday beer in the silver age of brewing. For the last few years, it’s been released earlier, usually the first week of November. Last year I lamented that loss of seasonality and I continue to celebrate what I call Anchor Christmas Ale Day on that Monday before Thanksgiving. This year is the 35th annual release of the beer, which except for the first few years has been a different recipe every year.

For the past few years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale has been fairly similar each year, unlike the roller coast years of the mid-1990s, which, I confess, I remember with a special fondness. (Plus I also have several magnums of each year stretching back a decade and 12 oz. bottles a little farther.) I had an opportunity to try some last weekend and it’s about how I remember it last year, still tasting quite good and will undoubtedly be the beer I enjoy with my Thanksgiving dinner.

The reason I bring this up today, instead of on Monday, is that the San Francisco Chronicle profiled the 82-year old Jim Stitt, the artist who’s drawn virtually all of Anchor’s beer labels, including 35 different Christmas Ale labels, beginning with Anchor Porter in 1974. (There’s also a photo gallery with more of Stitt’s labels.)

This year’s label features the “iconic Monterey cypress near Stanyan and Fell Streets, where the Panhandle meets Golden Gate Park. Lit up from head to toe shortly after Thanksgiving every year, it’s San Francisco’s unofficial Christmas tree. And this year, it becomes the very first San Francisco native to have its portrait on Anchor Brewing Co.’s Christmas Ale.”

My favorite quote from Stitt is this. “It’s a handmade beer, so the label should be hand-drawn.” Below are all 35 of Stitt’s hand-drawn labels for Anchor Christmas Ale.


Labeling the States

A custom label maker has on their website a map of the United States with a beer label for each state. For instance, California is Firestone Walker and Oregon is Full Sail. How many can you name? Some are hard to see and some are obscure choices, but it was a fun exercise. Visit etiquette systems for a list of the answers by state or a flash version of the map.