Wet Hop Kellerbier by Mikkeller

Label Approval by | Nov 2011 | Issue #58

There’s something nostalgic about Keith Shore’s otherworldly images: the appearance of texture on a flat image, the high-contrast, super-blended colors, the minimalist rendering of one action-packed snapshot that challenges the viewer to fill in the details.

“I want the labels to have a storybook feel,” says Shore, an illustrator and print designer who’s been creating Mikkeller labels for year and a half. His most recent contribution wraps the Wet Hop Kellerbier, due on shelves as soon as the season’s hop harvest ends. “Freshness was my inspiration. Our character is returning from the forest with a freshly cut Giant Hop,” Shore explains, as though Giant Hops grow in his backyard.

Shore has designed nearly 20 labels for Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s whimsical Danish brand, and each one tells a story. His Belgian Tripel label, for example, shows a robe-clad monk riding a scooter away from an airborne, presumably thirsty cat; the feline laps up beer from a Mikkeller chalice on the reverse side.

“I’m given no other direction beyond the name and style of beer,” he says. “For this Kellerbier label, the subject of Mikkel’s email was ‘Wet Hop Kellerbier’ and the body of the email said, ‘Can you?’ This is how we work together—Mikkel makes the beer, and I make the art.”

Shore says, “Every label begins as a drawing.” Then, he scans the drawing and layers “hand-painted textures, fabric swatches and ink-washed shadows.” When he’s not bringing to life rugged Giant Hop hunters, Shore’s designing art for clothing, book jackets and magazines. “A lot of fun projects over the years,” he says. “But none that compare to making beer labels. I absolutely love it.”

Even if you haven’t had a Mikkeller brew, the logo is probably familiar—that signature font that looks like someone tried to hand-draw Courier New certainly stands out—which is exactly Shore’s intent. “I always think about what the bottles will look like in a group,” he says. “I want them to look like a gang. I’m nerdy, and I save nice bottles and display them on shelves in my studio. I like imagining that someone might want to do that with ours.”