Black Market Brewing’s Aftermath Pale Ale

Label Approval by | Jul 2017 | Issue #126

The zombie apocalypse might be a product of contemporary culture, but for Randy Mosher, “red-sky dreams of The End at night” lingered for many years. “I grew up when nuclear holocaust was a real possibility,” says Mosher, who designed all of Black Market Brewing’s bottles and cans for its first five years. “I suppose I folded the imagery of those nightmares into this art.”

Mosher, the renowned beer writer and label artist, collaborated with Black Market Brewing founder Kevin Dyer to create the Southern California brewery’s noir, spy-themed branding imagery back in 2009. It helps that Dyer is a former FBI agent. “Living and working in that world for years, I have taken a lot of those concepts and applied them to my brand,” he says.

A crime-fiction narrative runs throughout the branding, featuring “good guys” Ellsworth and Mia, whose job is to get BMB beer into the right hands, and villains like the Blacklisted crew, who are out to sabotage Black Market’s expansion.

On the label for Aftermath Pale Ale, Elllsworth watches fiendish zombies raid a truck carrying Black Market contraband, all while a nuclear bomb explodes in the background. “They’re dead anyway, so I guess that they could care less about the apocalypse,” says Mosher. “Maybe the beer has brains in it, or they think it does.”

As Dyer sees it, “Our products are so sought after that even zombies, whose sole mission is to feed, still can’t get BMB out of their minds, and would rather locate and consume BMB than their typical diet of humans.”

Aftermath’s shadowy graphics and grim imagery are part of Black Market’s cohesive look. The effect is what Mosher calls “‘billboarding,’ where all the packages make a bold block on the shelf.”

Since Aftermath was released in 2013, the zombie apocalypse craze has given way to political dystopias, and Black Market’s current designer, Ian Law, is on it. “One ‘political’ aspect that is really gaining traction is hacking,” says Dyer. Sounds like Ellsworth will be learning to code soon.