The oft repeated charge that Los Angeles is a town built on looks has a basis in past experience, but in regards to our favorite malted beverage, the liquid inside a bottle or can is the most important aspect when it comes to independent beer.
That doesn’t mean that label design and even the container choice is unimportant. Three Los Angeles breweries recently made some bold artistic statements that make their beers really stand out on a cooler shelf.
The most impressive label is for the latest experimental hazy IPA from Brouwerij West. 16-ounce cans of Falling Water are just metallic silver, but applied to each can are tiny, intricate stickers (65 in all!) that together form one distinctive label. The art is from multi-hyphenate Tristan Eaton who is a street artist, muralist, illustrator, and toy designer. The circle concept and design executed by Varnish Studios. No two cans will look alike and it was accomplished without making people put stickers on by hand!
The hard work of turning raw buckwheat, raw spelt, raw barley and Mecca Grade Estate Malt and melding them with Simcoe, El Dorado, & Motueka hops is matched by the design that you just want to keep rotating in your hand.
Another IPA, this one from Highland Park Brewery, takes super bright colors and a sly reference to the automation level of their brewing system to create a bold look that fits in with the other highly colorful work that Scrap Labs has done with past hop cans such as the Hello L.A. rooster, Neon black backdrop, and Bonkers wild look. You cannot not see these beers on a shelf.
Packaging takes center stage in the last IPAs as El Segundo Brewing Co. has brought back the decidedly throwback stubbies of Yore. You can get Citra and Mayberry in the six-packs that have the ingenious design touch in the upper corner of the carrier that points out that all you have to do is lift the little bottle with the powerful punch of hops to see when exactly it was bottled. Boiling Point Creative created this very clever flourish in the El Segundo look that also helps the consumer.
The BEER OF THE WEEK is en fuego. When you pop the cap on New Belgium’s VooDoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin, you get a bold cinnamon aroma. Take a sip, jalapeño joins the party, and the two flavors swirl together to form a potent brew. Then, you find pumpkin puree is present in the background. Not a subtle beer by any stretch, but one of the better pumpkin styles that I have encountered.
Your HOMEWORK is to embrace your Danish side (without traveling to Solvang, or Denmark). This Saturday, September 23, the Stuffed Sandwich will be pouring nine different beers from the European country from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. Seven of these beers are part of the Sinner Series from Amager Bryghus Brewery. Just don’t read too much into it if you overhear someone ordering Lust of Gluttony.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.