A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

August 23, 2016

Inspiration is Everywhere: Art Surrounds Beer, Part 1

By Lance Lemen

Inspiration can strike at any time. It could come while you’re grinding away in your office chair, but we all know taking a shower can be equally as successful. Sometimes the best inspiration comes when you take your mind off of your troubles. And, if you are going to take a mental break, what better way to do it than over a beer? Beer is inspiration – from the always-evolving unique flavors, to the uninhibited creativity it can give the consumer, to the stories it helps create. 

Inspiration doesn’t just come from what’s poured–beer labels and package designs are a worthy art form in themselves. As a beer loving, ad agency guy, it’s the perfect union of two of worlds. Much like wine, with so many different options, labels and packaging are often the reason people are enticed to buy. Breweries are always pushing for shelf space and new ways to appeal to their audience. 

For this two-part Inspiration is Everywhere post, I included eight of my favorite beer labels and what I enjoy about them. Now, let it be known that I’m not one of UPBrand’s talented art directors. I’m merely a dude who sees great designs during the day and then drinks a beer later that night. Also, there are more beer labels than I could ever find. At the risk of leaving off something super cool, I’m only including beers from breweries I’ve actually had. That cuts down my options by at least 4,000 breweries! Who said narrowing down lists isn’t easy? 

(And just so you know, it wasn’t an accident that Budweiser’s America cans didn’t make the list. If you want to know our thoughts on that, check out Lynn’s blog post.)


City Wide Pale Ale

4 Hands Brewing Co, Missouri

Let’s start local. 4 Hand’s fairly new City Wide is a St. Louis beauty for several reasons. The front of the can is clean and powerful. The text and St. Louis flag pop off the white background. For more fun, they include food pairings that any St. Louisan can appreciate – toasted ravioli and pork steak.

4 Hands also donates money to local partner organizations for every four pack sold. Feeling the love yet?

4 Hands City Wide

(Click each of the images for a more detailed view.)


Hop Gun IPA

Funky Buddha Brewery, Florida

In an obvious nod to one of everyone’s favorite 80s movies, Funky Buddha created one of my favorite beer labels. The visual is a beautiful blue sky – with roaring F-14s shooting hop missiles. Nothing says IPA better than an explosion of hops (the bittering agent) in your beer. You’ll love it even more once you see @BeerLabelsInMotion’s beautiful animated Hop Gun label. Hop Gun, you can be my wingman any time.

Funky Buddha Hop Gun 


Graham Cracker Porter

Denver Beer Co., Colorado

At a quick glance this can looks pretty basic, with the brewery’s logo and the beer’s name on the face panel. However, on closer inspection you’ll see the outdoors theme. The background is filled with contour lines, like you’d find in a topographic map. The side of the can tells us it pairs well with tents, s’mores, sunsets and friends. Details like listing the longitude and latitude of the brewery, a “pack it out message” and a little s’mores graphic make this a full-bodied label design.

Denver Beer Graham Cracker 


Insane Rush IPA & Stick’s Pale Ale

Bootstrap Brewing, Colorado

I love the comic-style illustrations on both of these cans. The monochromatic designs catch your attention and nicely differentiates the beer styles. The detailed drawings of those critters keep you looking. “Insane Rush” is filled with rabid rabbits racing from a snake, while “Sticks” has group of ferocious beavers tearing a tree apart. As you rotate the can to catch all of the design elements and texture, you’re following the motion of the animals’ stampede.

Bootstrap Insane Rush 


After a long intro and reviewing the four labels I selected, it might be time to visit my fridge for some more inspiration. I hope you find some inspiration in your fridge, your shower or anywhere else you roam. Remember, inspiration is everywhere!

Check out the second half of this blog post for more label examples showing how art surrounds beer!  


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