With the craft-beer market showing no signs of slowing down and shelf space at a premium across nearly every aisle, there's no denying how important graphic design is these days. Compelling packaging is so crucial to a brewery's growth, in fact, that the industry's old and new guard seem to be in a steady race of rebranding themselves.
"A lot of what originally drew drinkers into craft beer was packaging that screamed personality," says Adam Lilly, Goose Island's vice president of marketing. "Now with nearly 7,000 breweries across the country, there’s a lot of personalities screaming at once. It’s hard to focus. Simple aesthetics are more alluring—and premium—now than ever, and help keep focus on what’s in the package rather than what’s on it."
"There’s been such an influx of new brands that’s it tough for anyone to stand out," adds Steve McKeown, associate creative director at the ad/marketing agency Brokaw Inc. "You can almost see packaging trends happening in real time on the shelves."
Take Highland Brewing, a longtime industry leader that went through a welcome makeover last month is. A pioneer in Asheville's small-but-thriving scene since the mid '90s, its labels used to look like something you'd find in Scotland, right down to their Renaissance Fair-esque font and bagpipe-blowing logo. And while that certainly worked for a while, the company's pub crawl packaging wasn't quite keeping up with the creative strides made by its brewers over the past couple years. With that in mind, owner Leah Ashburn brought Helms Workshop on board to rethink the branding of her family's otherwise thriving business
And they’re not the only ones. Everywhere you look, it seems that breweries are turning bottle shops into gallery spaces. Here's the story behind Highland Brewing’s reboot, along with 17 other craft-beer creations that look as good as they taste.