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Browsing a beer store, you might think that craft brewers (like those in our guide to nanobreweries in 50 states) care as much about their labels as they do what's in the bottle—and you wouldn't be far off. With the saturated market, it's important to stand out, and some producers do so with beautiful illustrations from their favorite artists.
Conveniently for the holiday gift season, these smart brewers also sell larger-scale versions that make perfect gifts for beer lovers. Here, five breweries that sell prints of their amazing labels.
Portland, Oregon’s Gigantic Brewery works with local artists and up-and-coming talents from across the globe to design labels for their limited-edited beers. Each newbie works with Rob Reger, a renowned comic artist who was one of the brewery’s first investors, as well as Portland’s Hellion Gallery. The labels range in style from the vibrant, ultra-bright graphic work of Tokyo artist Nigamushi to the eerily surreal style of Portland-based multimedia artist Joe Shea. Sixteen-by-twenty-inch posters of the labels are available for $60 on Giagntic’s website.
Every season, Dogfish Head chooses a new artist to create labels, posters and merchandise for their four seasonal offerings: Aprihop, Festina Peche, Punkin Ale and Piercing Pils. This year’s artist is Rich Kelly, an illustrator who has made posters for bands like Phish, Primus, The Black Keys and Dave Matthews Band. His theme for the labels: a traveling Dogfish Head circus. All four posters are available now on Dogfish Head’s website for $20 for the four-pack.
Big Sky Brewery
Big Sky’s outdoorsy labels and posters reflect Montana’s panoramic beauty and wildlife and look like they could be the covers of classic children’s books. In fact, artist Jane Lund designs them for her children: the brewery's co-founder Bjorn Nazobney and V.P. of Operations Kris Nabozney. Label art and brewery posters are available on Big Sky’s online store [http://store.bigskybrew.com/], and while mom might need a raise, they're just $4 each.
The can-only Minneapolis brewery collaborates with local artist Chuck U., whose style blends animals and steampunk—old-timey science fiction. Indeed’s online store is out of framed prints from Chuck, but you can still score a poster of his Day Tripper Pale Ale label for $30 and find the Midnight Ryder American Black Ale for $40 on thebeerdabbler.com.
The Denver brewery’s funky, almost grotesque labels are drawn by legendary illustrator Ralph Steadman—whom you might know from his collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson. In fact, Thompson, who lived near the brewery, introduced Steadman to Flying Dog’s owner, George Stranahan, kicking off the partnership. Though it’s currently too late to order any of Steadman’s prints in time for this Christmas, there’s always next year. Right now, three prints of his Flying Dog labels are for sale on his site: Snake Dog Ale, Road Dog Ale and In Heat Wheat. Prices start at £20.00 (about $30).