10 Beers With Great Packaging

November 8, 2012

They say you should never judge a book by its cover.

Well, “they” are stupid.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” has had some awesome covers and that book rules. Ditto with “The Postmortal”, “Please Kill Me”, “Y: The Last Man” and that one Bukowski collection with all the naughty short stories.

No, it’s more likely that “they” are just ugly and jealous. “They” also buy a boring beer with a boring label. But you know better, because “you” are smart and pretty.

So it’s because of you smart, pretty people that I list 10 great beers that you should totally buy based on their packaging.


Flying Dog Brewery: Frederick, Md.

I’ll let you judge the contents of the bottle for yourself, but it’s hard to capture eyes in the aisles as much as Flying Dog does. Then again, when your history includes hanging with Hunter S. Thompson and you have his Gonzo illustrator Ralph Steadman handdraw all your packaging, you get a bit of a leg-up on the competition.

American Brewing Company: Edmonds, Wash.

I don’t know a lot about this brewery and have never had any of its beers, but as you can tell, the company behind its branding, Taphandles, does such amazing work bringing concepts to life.

Left Hand Brewing Company: Longmont, Col.

Left Hand, which has a logo that looks like it should be on an Uruk-hai’s face, is one of many Colorado craft breweries that manages to please the eyes as well as the mouth and tongue. The liver? Not so much.

Great Divide Brewing Co.: Denver, Col.

Great Divide makes great beer, but they also make great packaging. Their silhouetted imagery fits their themes perfectly and while its a fairly blue-collar design, the paper stock they use will make you feel like you’re drinking something fancy.

Brooklyn Brewery: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Brooklyn really doesn’t mess around. Well, they certainly have a lot of fun, and their head brewer may be the most well-regarded in the game, but the old-school simplicity they give their visual identity grabs you in your liquor store’s craft beer aisle (aisles, hopefully).

Kiuchi Brewery: Naka, Japan

I’ve never had this beer, but it looks like it was made by Hayao Miyazaki, so I can only imagine it has a mouthfeel full of childlike exuberance with a coming-of-age finish. Plus, it seems like it’d be a real hoot!

Deschutes Brewery: Bend, Ore.

Deschutes is a fun company with bold, yet comforting graphics and some great beer. Great website, too.

Odell Brewing Company: Fort Collins, Colo.

I’m a bit of a sucker for Odell. Its packaging isn’t always the most exciting, but the beer always is. That being said, they do have a great visual identity, as seen by above with its St. Lupulin EPA and seasonal version of its company logo.

Surly Brewing Co.: Brooklyn Center, Minn.

This pick could seem like a little hometown homerism. And I’ll admit that there’s plenty of that in the local craft beer scene, but like the Wu-Tang Clan, Surly’s packaging ain’t nothing to [expletive deleted] with.

When you have P.O.S. dropping your name in lyrics, you’re onto something. You can have amazing beer, which they do, but you don’t get people camping overnight outside in the Minnesota cold to get your newest release if your branding isn’t amazing as well, just ask Steel Toe.

21st Amendment Brewery: San Francisco, Calif.

It’d be an understatement to say that San Francisco’s 21st Amendment has a real knack for packaging design. The monkey astronaut pictured on the home page teaser graphic is from the company’s EPA, Bitter American (“If you’d been rocketed into space against your will, you might be a little bitter too.”), and pictured above is its Black IPA, Back in Black, featuring a badass, hog-riding Paul Revere shouting his warning of the arrival of the British army.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!