Doan’s Craft Brewing Company’s Rye IPA

Label Approval by | Jan 2018 | Issue #131

The Doan brothers have something in common with the Brothers Grimm: Both of their creative worlds were born in the German city of Kassel, where the Grimm brothers grew up, and where illustrator Ola Volo found inspiration for the Vancouver, B.C., brewery’s labels.

“When we were working on the first few labels, I just happened to be in Germany that summer and drawing my inspiration from my environment,” says Volo, who’s originally from Kazakhstan.

She’d been tasked with capturing the likeness of brothers Michael and Evan Doan and their longtime friend and business partner Kevin Sharpe. She’d only recently met the brewery co-founders, and was feeling some pressure to represent the close-knit trio accurately.

But strolling through Kassel, where metal sculptures of Grimm stories are scattered around town, she started thinking about the history of the Doan’s founders as a modern folklore tale.

For the Rye IPA label, Volo began with the houses in the background—“you can see the architecture on the roof is exactly the same as traditional German houses,” she says, with windows that resemble eyes “overlooking them.”

She added now-familiar iconography, like the family cat, trees, and the brewery itself, and she drew in Russian nesting dolls to represent how the founders celebrate her art as part of the company’s own story.

“The Doan’s brand is very much linked to Ola’s artwork and aesthetic,” says Doan’s graphic designer Gavin Coulson. “With the labels, it’s always simply been the intention to present her work as unadulterated as possible, while still conveying the necessary information.”

Then there were the beards. “They look alike, but they have a few differences,” Volo laughs. “So you can see the kind of subtle, different textures, and they groom them differently.”

The Rye IPA label became the foundation for Doan’s award-winning packaging and was also repurposed and used as the foundation for a mural in the taproom.

Four years later, Volo says, “I feel like I actually did a good job of how I still see them today—extremely friendly and very down to earth.”