8 Breweries Share Stories Behind Their Favorite Labels
In observance of National American Beer Day (Oct. 27), we snagged some insight into the art of local brews.
Photo by Joe del Tufo
In a world full of often-meaningless labels, the one on your beer bottle or can should say something about what’s inside. After all, with so many breweries producing so many styles that appeal to so many tastes, choosing a beer is harder than ever. A great label catches your eye, makes you pause, provides some insight into the experience of enjoying a beer. So why do they look the way they do? In observance of National American Beer Day on Oct. 27, we asked eight local breweries about the stories behind their favorite labels.
DelMarVa Pure Pils
Evolution Craft Brewing Co.
Evolution’s DelMarVa Pure Pils was originally designed to be a semi-seasonal release but due to its overwhelming response was added to its main line. The label design has summer flair while maintaining Evolution’s brand identity and tasteful font selection. The background features subtle waves, which add texture and dimension to the layout. Brand marketing director Austin Widdowson says that, “true to our brewing style, this beer has a hoppy profile which we’ve highlighted graphically by featuring our signature hop front and center. The color palette is light, bright and screams refreshing. And rightfully so. It is one of our lightest and most refreshing flavor profiles, which will undoubtedly brighten up any fun-in-the-sun activities.”
BeachBreak Apricot Wheat Ale
3rd Wave Brewing Co.
It’s rare to find a female brewery owner in a field filled with beards, but at 3rd Wave, Lori Clough is bucking the trend. The Delmar brewery’s vibrant can designs evoke a summer beach vacation. “Our BeachBreak Apricot Wheat Ale is one of our most distinctive cans,” Clough says. “We are a beach-themed brewery, and my business partner, myself and our graphics guy came up with this design depicting a surfer at the end of long day on the waves heading in for a cold beer. The orange background and yellow rays are subtle but eye-catching on the shelf.” The 3rd Wave brand palette is vibrant throughout the line, with bright summer colors and crisp illustrations to go with its motto: “Good friends, good waves, great beer.”
Photo by Joe del Tufo
Not Today Satan
Mispillion River Brewing
Mispillion River Brewing in Milford has quickly created a name for itself through clever beer names and labels, recently drawing long lines of costumed beer lovers to celebrate its line of Harry Potter-themed brews. For Not Today Satan, “the design came about due to the name,” says Eric Williams, el presidente at Mispillion. “Our tasting room manager at the time, Billy, had been to Firefly and noticed someone carrying a sign around that said, ‘Not Today Satan.’ He thought it was hilarious, and he continuously used the phrase for the next few weeks until someone finally brewed a beer that we thought was worthy of his favorite new saying.” The beer is an IPA brewed with “an unholy joining” of El Dorado, Mosaic, Centennial, Cascade and Columbus hops. The label, designed by Tom Ryan’s Studio, uses a demonic palette to color its comic-style illustration of hell being sated by a delicious drink.
Blue Earl Brewing Co.
This beer was originally crafted as a home brew in brewer/rock star Ron Price’s garage for his wife, Rosemary. “She’d had a Belgian blonde ale on a trip and loved it,” he says, “so I brewed one for her.” Commercially, it was an immediate hit, and it has become Blue Earl’s all-time bestseller. The name is inspired both by Rosemary and the Fats Waller tune. “Grego Anderson is the designer,” Price says. “He’s a well-known artist and a musician himself. On it you can see hummingbirds feeding off of honeysuckle with a rose in between, with music elements throughout.” Neon colors appear to float just above the dark bottle.
Rising Sun IPA
Iron Hill Brewery
An original on the Delaware brewing scene, Iron Hill Brewery is in its third decade. The Rising Sun IPA can design is its first collaboration with Pittsburgh’s Smith Brothers Agency. “They did an outstanding job capturing every minute detail,” says Iron Hill’s Michael Greger. “The can is a bright gold that really catches your eye and puts the wave graphic in motion as it appears to be crashing down into the lettering.” The beer is brewed with Japanese Sorachi Ace hops, so Iron Hill wanted to have elements that highlighted the Eastern influence. “If you look closely, you’ll also notice Iron Hill’s logo in the seascape, a very intentional touch since that iconic flying bird was originally inspired by a Japanese motif,” Greger says. Iron Hill offers Rising Sun in 16-ounce cans.
Photo by Joe del Tufo
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
After two decades as one of the most successful brands in the country, Dogfish Head is in its first year of canning. For its new SeaQuench labeling, says founder Sam Calagione, “our goal was to use a color scheme that’s evocative of the ocean and beach with soft, vibrant colors like the light sea green that dominates the palette of the packaging. We also wanted to focus on our shark-and-shield logo and our Doggie font, which is a unique font I designed 22 years ago using a 19th-century stamp set.” Dogfish worked with Interact, a Colorado-based design agency, on the labeling. One of the elements is a location on the side of each product where the unique ingredients are featured. “In the case of SeaQuench Ale, you’ll see great artwork featuring the sea salt, lime peel and black limes on every can, which is what makes this recipe so well-differentiated.”
2SP Brewing Co.
In the past few years, Two Stones Pub has been as busy as anyone in the industry. Since its humble beginnings in Newark, it has added four new craft pubs in the area. So it’s easy to overlook the fact that its brewery, 2SP, has been delivering some palate-tingling new beers recently. Its newest can release, Bellcracker, is a bold double IPA in a straightforward black can. Post Typography out of Baltimore is very aligned with the Two Stones ethic of “no bull, great quality,” says Michael Contreras, director of sales and marketing for Two Stones. The can design’s vibrant yellow-on-black wheel of lightning bolts surrounding the base of a spark plug is consistent with the “mid-century Americana motif” that Two Stones is known for. “The name led us to a lighting bolt, and the high alcohol content of the beer led us to a lot of lightning bolts, a way to signal that this is a powerful beer,” says Nolen Strais of Post Typography. “It looks great on the can and will look really dynamic on the shelf.”
Double D Double IPA
Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co.
Fordham & Dominion in Dover wowed us with the war poster design for its Double D Double IPA. “A female pilot from Dover Air Force Base wondered if we ever thought about using World War II aircraft nose art on our beers,” says marketing manager Sarah Ottinger. “We came up with the story of the fictitious Deanie Davis, who joined the Air Force because she couldn’t just sit back and let the men fight for our freedom without her.”