Swirl Your Glass and Extend Your Pinkies, It's Beer Art Critique Time

Source: AleheadsSource: Aleheads

Besides producing good conversation, good beer can also bring out the inner art critic in all of us. Whenever I browse the array of side by side coolers trying to pick out what to drink next, I can’t help but feel that I’m in a modern day salon viewing a collection of tiny paintings. And with the wealth of craft beer crowding shelves, each brewery trying to distinguish itself the best they can, the art style on the beer labels really runs a gamut from contemporary to traditional.

In most instances they do this by forming an identity or brand; think traditional Dogfish Head or Rogue labels. Other breweries view each new label as a blank canvas and really try to construct a unique style based on beer style, name, or they whims of the artist. 21st amendment does a good job of this. I sometimes find myself admiring the art of a particular can of beer before realizing it is from the San Francisco based brewery.

If you want to hear a true critics opinion of famous beer labels, check out this New York Times Magazine interview of Milton Glaser. Who the hell is he? If you’ve ever seen an I ♥ New York shirt, he’s the guy behind that. His approach to critiquing craft beer art is whether or not they take an opposite approach of a macro, or intentionally producing something amateurish that isn’t. This typical viewpoint of wanting it both ways is what makes me disdain art critics to begin with, but I enjoyed reading his viewpoints on the different labels.

Interestingly enough, he slams the Dogfish Head label as looking extremely unpleasing to the eye and therefore to taste. I think these labels fit his description to a tee however. The traditional Dogfish Head label (they are currently moving slowly to a new identity, with the stylized ladies) epitomized amateur styling, employing a simple logo and wall of text describing the beer about to be imbibed. Back in day, such chronic description of your product flew in the face of traditional macro advertising which liked to throw about meaningless adjectives in bright primary colors. Dogfish employed a more natural color pallet, with muted dark colors on a light brown background. Subtlety that spoke volumes about the brewers confidence in a product that was of actually amazing.

Disagree with either one of us? Have a particular beer label you find fascinating (even if you don’t actually like the beer)? Let us know!

Source: New York Times Magazine