Two Years With Dr. Nandu by Aeronaut Brewing Co.

Label Approval by | Jul 2016 | Issue #114

When it comes to creating artwork for Aeronaut Brewing’s labels, illustrator Raul Gonzalez works on several designs at once. “He likes to keep a bunch in motion so he can keep adding to them as he has ideas that fit one better than another,” says Aeronaut CEO Ben Holmes.

Take, for example, when Gonzalez was tasked with retelling the story from A Year With Dr. Nandu, Aeronaut’s one-year-anniversary IPA, for Two Years With Dr. Nandu, an Imperial IPA celebrating the brewery’s second anniversary. At first, Gonzalez planned to incorporate microbes, a nod to Aeronaut’s new yeast lab. Instead, he went to town drawing an air balloon. “He’s like, ‘I wanted to draw this right now,’” Holmes recalls.

“We realized that the air balloon is a good descriptor of yeast as an aeronaut, a traveler on the air,” says Holmes. “You have to discover new meanings inside those drawings.” (For more air balloons, look closely at the negative space in Aeronaut’s can-tab logo.) Still, the microbe idea was too good to pass up. So Gonzalez combined his two inspirations into a yeast character flying a hot air balloon in a new label for the special anniversary release of A Year With Dr. Nandu.

Like the Nandu series itself, which increases in ABV and hoppiness each year, Two Years plays with the concept of time. “The can is filled with cartoon magic that taps into the young kid in us all that ate cereal while zoning out to the illustrations on the cereal box,” says Gonzalez.

Some familiar imagery returns, like the yeti, the folk-singer ghost and the fish car (now a fish plane). Each is based on a real-life icon in the brewery’s neighborhood of Somerville, Mass. “The characters on the cans are inspired by the community,” says Gonzalez.

Just like on the first edition, Gonzalez used red and blue Bic ballpoint pens, aligning with Holmes’ #tweetsyourcoasters campaign, where he posts photos of coaster doodles on Twitter and Instagram. From illustrations to beers, says Holmes, “we like to explore the expressive potential of accessible materials.”