It is often said that you taste with your eyes, and if this is true then enjoying a beer starts with the beer labels. Since opening almost a year ago, we have seen some designs that have blown us away, (as well as some leaving us to doubt whether there is a shred of good taste left in humanity!). A good label is undoubtedly a factor in whether or not people will buy it – I have lost count of the amount of times someone has picked a beer because of “the awesome bottle”.

Below we showcase five labels that draw peoples attention and have that wow-factor. And not a single one uses Comic Sans.

Flying Dog – Gonzo Imperial Porter

If you are going to look at some of the best designed labels then it makes sense to look at one designed by one of the standout artists of his generation. Ralph Steadman was introduced to Flying Dog brewery by Hunter S. Thompson in 1990 and first began illustrating their bottles in 1995. In the following 20 years, there have been some incredible and iconic bottles. Amongst these, we feel that Gonzo Imperial Porter stands out, with its simple black and white imagery starkly contrasting with some of the more garish designs. Brewed to honour Hunter S. Thompson, this porter is dark and luxurious, perfect for sipping and enjoying.

Hitachino Nest – Nipponia

Japan has an incredibly strong and distinct artistic heritage, designs from the country being very recognisable as “Japanese”. In this case, most people seeing the Hitachino owl logo from afar instantly identify it as a Japanese brewery, even before seeing the Japanese script on the bottle. We have chosen Nipponia, their 8.0% IPA, to represent their beautiful bottle designs. Brewed using an almost extinct Japanese malt that they spent 5 years cultivating from seeds, and a hop whose story is possibly more well known than any beer it is in, this is a Japanese beer through and through. Nipponia is incredibly striking, the embossed gold font standing old in stark contrast to the black background. Whereas some gold labels can come across garish, this remains restrained, only helping to highlight this beer.

Jack’s Abbey – Hopponius Union

Something that is complicated doesn’t necessarily need to come across as complicated. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the Hoponius Union bottle and six-pack design from Jack’s Abby. Each hop on the trellis in the background is picked out in great detail, cascading down the centre of the bottle. Upon such a busy background it is easy for type to become unreadable, straining the readers eyes. However, a stylised font with a dropped shadow pushes the illustration into the background, placing the text firmly in the foreground. Achieving this balance between complexity and readability makes for an incredibly eye-catching and interesting design.

Omnipollo – Mazarin

Contrasting the Hoponius Union design, Mazarin by Omnipollo is a lesson in simplicity. Thermalprinting directly onto the bottles is a costlier approach than printing labels, demonstrating the level of Omnipollo’s dedication to amazing design. In this case, a single stylised candle stands on its own on the bottles front. Eschewing the usual malt barley for oatmeal gives this beer an impenetrable haze, causing the candle to stand out even more prominently. Their bottle designs have become so popular that the artist, Karl Gardin, was asked to put on a show about his work for Omnipollo.

Sly Fox – SRT

SRT ale from Sly Fox, Pennsylvania, is brewed to celebrate the Schuylkill Rive Trail that is biked, hiked, walked and run on by thousands of people a year. The idea behind this golden pale ale being that it is perfect to enjoy after any of those activities. Not being a citizen of Southern Pennsylvania, I was obviously clueless as to what the SRT was, until I decided to look it up. However, a passing glance at the can makes it obvious that this beer was meant to be enjoyed after outdoor activities. A runner, cyclist and canoeist are all wonderfully depicted in silhouette, ontop of retro line art showing the river, trail and sky. Both simplistic and detailed, this beer can design grabs the attention with bold typography and keeps it with the delicate detail.