Orange County’s Sexiest Beer Labels

…and the stories behind them

Considering I’ve scanned miles of aisles of every liquor store from top to bottom over the last twenty-five years, taking mental snapshots may seem like a chore, but sometimes I find it can be cathartic…sort of like browsing an art museum. While perusing the beverage cooler of the local bodega recently, this beer label caught my eye:

Unsung Brewing’s Citrique IPA

Unsung Brewing in Anaheim’s Packing District has created a comic universe to explore its portfolio of inventive, mutant ales. With a full story on the side of the bottle, I asked Unsung owner Michael Crea about what went into their design.

“The art was done by a very talented artist in San Diego named Dane Danner and curated by Mother Sponge Inc. We first create the character storyline based on a correlation to the beer style or its ingredients. That gives us some idea how we want the hero to look physically, which we relay to Dane. Mother Sponge works on the finer details of color, lettering, printing, scale, and overall label design. It’s important that the more labels we create, they have a similar feel next to our previous labels.

“Since we are also adding to the comic character family, we have to figure out how they fit into this world we created. Overall, it’s a pretty creative process that stretches our inner geek across the spectrum of comic lore. Ultimately, we hope beer fans are able to take a second and appreciate the art and thought put into creating the label! I hadn’t anticipated this, but by making each beer a fictional character, it’s given the product inside the bottle more of an identity and a deeper connection to the customer through the use of the label,” Crea explained.

Bottle Logic Brewing, Jam The Radar

Bottle Logic’s Jam the Radar Barrel Aged Raspberry Stout

Lindsay Langton of Bottle Logic noted, “Josh Emrich does all of our design work, from brand identity to developing new themes for beer series. He designed our Stasis Project labels that follow a pretty rigid template, but we work fun little nods in if you look closely. My description paragraphs usually touch on the inspiration behind the beer, then house Chef Patrick Whittaker matches three ideal food pairings along the bottom. Generally, he’ll suggest a cheese, and entree, and a dessert.

Josh does such a beautiful job at incorporating our brewery’s scientific ethos into this label’s information design — there are useful data pieces all over the label, with regard to suggested serving and cellaring temperatures, aging recommendations, ABV, and more.”

Anaheim Brewery, La Morena

Co-owner of Anaheim Brewery, Barbara Gerovak walked me through their La Morena label: “Back in 2008, we met with our friend and neighbor, artist Chris Maya to talk about beer labels.  We explained about the history of the Anaheim Brewery and told Chris the first four beers that would form our core would be Gold, Red, Hefeweizen, and 1888.  Chris said something that day about how he believed people like a sense of history in their spirits.  I agree.  It gives a sense of depth, just as any beer with a good story behind it.
“About two years ago, Chris asked if we’d ever consider making a Mexican-style beer, because he had a painting he thought would make a lovely label.  He showed us what is now on the La Morena label, and we said, yes.  Yes, we will brew a Mexican-style lager for the painting.  Local Disney artist Kevin Kidney did the graphic design.”

Barley Forge, Future Tripping Double IPA

From Mary Ann Frericks, co-owner of Barley Forge, “Personally, I have a BA in Art History from the University of Michigan and an MFA from California State University Long Beach and I spent 25 years teaching and exhibiting as a professional artist before (co-owner) Greg Nylen and I got the crazy idea to open a brewery.  Greg has an undergraduate degree in film from UCLA.  We pool those interests and experience to develop the beer names and then we collaborate with Dave Stolte who in turn creates the label illustrations for our packaging, primarily our 12-ounce heritage bottles.
“Future Tripping, our DIPA, is a personal favorite of mine.  I heard reference to the psychological term of future tripping, meaning irrational and excessive stressing and fretting about some future event, in a context and environment totally unrelated to beer.  When the time came to name our second DIPA (One Louder was our first core DIPA), Future Tripping DIPA was born.  At that point, we brought in Stolte to develop the label. Stolte liked the astronaut as a reference to the future.  Nylen requested that our astronaut be tripping on a hop vine twisting around the astronaut’s ankles.  A few brainstorming sessions and several emails and edits later and the label was born, including the number “70” in the upper left-hand corner.  All of our labels include a different number in that position and all of the numbers relate to significant events that hold meaning for us.”

The Bruery, Share This! OC

From Bruery Distribution Marketing Manager Cambria Griffith, “Each beer release in the Share This! series reflects a pattern that is indicative of the region with which we collaborate. I’m a big fan of the most recent one, which focuses on Southern California and showcases custom art inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement. The series uses work from two designers, including Joanna, our in-house graphic designer, the other is Eric Sena, a freelance designer based in Oregon who works on many of our labels from afar. We met Eric through one of our design contests we hosted on social media years ago and he has been a wonderful part of our design team ever since!”

Facebook Comments