A call for more subtle beer tshirts

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by PackieMcHopHead, Aug 26, 2021.

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  1. PackieMcHopHead

    PackieMcHopHead Oct 1, 2009 Massachusetts

    I was reading this story in the Wall Street Journal today about, oddly enough, winery t-shirts. I actually didn't realize winery t-shirts was a major thing. But maybe it's because wineries are more subtle in their approach. From the story:

    His winery’s T-shirt ($24) simply features a pair of pruning shears and the Matthiasson name—understated, much like the wines he makes. ... Mr. Matthiasson had more to say in a follow-up email: “Most [people] have never heard of Matthiasson and don’t recognize our logo…but if they know us, they enjoy seeing that one of our fans is as geeky about wine as they are."

    This is what I've been wishing brewers would do more of with their merch. I have a drawer full of brewery shirts, but as I get older, I find myself avoiding them the ones that scream 'I drink craft beer.' I'd LOVE for more breweries to take the approach describe above and print more shirt that just have their logo, or the name of the brewery without the words 'brewery' or 'beer' on them, but I just don't see them out there that often.

    I mean, yeah, I obviously like beer, and I like supporting breweries I like, but I don't want to shove that in people's faces when I'm walking around town, or get judged for being a craft beer bro. I think it would be much cooler if breweries use a 'If you know, you know' approach to their t-shirt merch.

    Agree or disagree?
    snaotheus, JMN44, beergoot and 15 others like this.
  2. BigIronH

    BigIronH Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    So you’re wanting like a picture of a hop and just the first word of the breweries name? I’m not sure. I’m trying to picture a scenario in which this would work for a breweries marketing, which is of course what merchandise is all about. If I had a more concrete example of what I would be looking at, I could more accurately judge whether it was something I would buy or not or at least if it was something I think would work. I would agree that most of the craft beer brewery merch I own says “brewery” on it, but that’s because most of the businesses end with the word; brewery. For me personally, I haven’t found this to be a big deal. Good possibility I’m missing the point. Cheers.
  3. readyski

    readyski Jun 4, 2005 California
    Society Trader

    I tend to appreciate subtle and understated positions but I don't think that will drive sales. Nevertheless there is a place for such things and if you look around you may find some you like (or just make your own :wink:).
  4. Giantspace

    Giantspace Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    SingleCut has a very basic logo shirt.

    I agree, low key is better. I won’t buy one but if given to me I will wear it. Guess that’s why I have no beer company shirts.

    beergoot, Rug and Harrison8 like this.
  5. gatornation

    gatornation Apr 18, 2007 Florida
    Society Trader

    Cellarmaker make one of the best low key t shirts as does Kauai Island Brewery.
    Mortal_Wombat, beergoot and JayORear like this.
  6. dbl_delta

    dbl_delta Sep 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    So f'rinstance: Hill Farmstead has a nice understated logo (sort of a goblet in an hourglass). If you put that on a tee with no text whatsoever, it would be recognizable to a true beer geek but wouldn't scream "craft beer" to the uninitiated. I understand the marketing aspect, but I hate being a walking billboard.
    ianous, beergoot, DrOfGolf and 6 others like this.
  7. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Mar 12, 2013 California
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    The only brewery shirt I ever wear is from Greenbush. Its got their simple GB logo with a leafless bush silhouette coming out of it. On the back, up bear the neck, it says "good beer wins"

    I like the logo and the message and that its pretty understated and doesn't stand out as an alcohol specific shirt
    beergoot, DrOfGolf, Jaycase and 5 others like this.
  8. PackieMcHopHead

    PackieMcHopHead Oct 1, 2009 Massachusetts

    Funny enough I was gonna use this exact example but thought my post was running long. I’ve always wanted a HF shirt with just that logo. If you know, you know. Sort of gives it a cool factor without coming across like a craft beer hardo.
  9. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    As someone who only owns one brewery hat, and no other brewery apparel, I click with OP's statement. I've been yearning for some more simple brewery apparel, but alas, it doesn't seem many care to put forth the effort (or cost) in designing a memorable, yet distinctive, logo. If my favorite local brewery dropped a t-shirt with just their three-triangle logo, I'd probably buy it up immediately (price and quality/fit of the t-shirt are big factors in making a purchase). A nice little call back to their tap handle design as seen around town.

    As for other examples, Side Project has some great examples. Their t-shirts currently say "Side Project" with their lightbulb logo in the space between words. Would love if they dropped a t-shirt with just the light bulb. Fortunately, they have collared shirts, one of which just has the light bulb logo, and the other just has a pocket tag saying "Side Project." Even though I rarely have their beer, I've been considering picking up both collared shirts due to their more subtle branding.

    Fun fact: nearly ordered my second brewery apparel from a brewery I have only visited once, but I was too late. A brewery in the PNW dropped a quality wool hat with their subtle logo (outline of a mountain). No words. No mention of drinking. Just their logo. Loved the simplicity, although apparently so did another 50 people before me.
    AlcahueteJ, DrOfGolf and readyski like this.
  10. JrGtr

    JrGtr Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I'm not disagreeing with the premise - but I have the caveat that the design of the t-shirt (and all merch, for that matter,) does need to fit with the vibe and personality of the brewery.
    For instance, I couldn't see 3 Floyds putting out a shirt with a subtle "FFF" on the upper left chest, like I couldn't see Hill Farmstead with a Pushead-designed artwork.
    beergoot, Harrison8 and JayORear like this.
  11. dbl_delta

    dbl_delta Sep 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    ...and a limited release (50 is a little stingy, IMHO) would enhance the cognoscenti aspect of the attire. Same marketing strategy as limited beer releases, most of which sell out in minutes. It's the FOMO effect.
    Plus the brewery comes off as being too cool to actually put its NAME out there (how tacky!)
    Harrison8 likes this.
  12. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aug 24, 2020 California

    I come from an extended family of wine snobs. If "subtle/understated" is the hallmark of wineries I want exactly the opposite from my beer apparel.
  13. tzieser

    tzieser Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    I don’t normally buy beer shirts, but when I do, I prefer Vitamin Sea.

    Seriously though, their merch game is on point. I don’t really buy much merch from breweries anymore….the older I become the less enamored I am with the juvenile-looking designs most places push out. Vitamin Sea can be like that too at times but I do enjoy their nods to the local area. The “South Shore” shirt in particular is my favorite one. I was born in Weymouth and grew up in Duxbury so it just feels like a must have. Regardless, it’s Just Another T-Shirt Shop so who cares
    VSB_dino, beergoot and FBarber like this.
  14. tone77

    tone77 May 20, 2009 Pennsylvania

    My only beer T-shirts are from my travels. I just wore my Beer Chang T-shirt from Thailand last weekend.
    beergoot and oneeye like this.
  15. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Dec 11, 2006 California
    Society Trader

    Was gifted a few beer shirts on my recent trip to France/Belgium. One is not very subtle:
  16. moodenba

    moodenba Feb 2, 2015 New York

    I have craft beer tshirts but rarely wear them. My one piece of beer paraphernalia that I have worn regularly is a pre-craft 1976 era "Blitz Weinhard Bottle Popper Belt buckle". It was issued in the early days of the bottle deposit law, and the resurgence of "use opener" crown caps. It is very subtle until you unbuckle the belt to open a brew. A picture is at:
    By the way, my son was working from home today in a fairly subtle Rogue teeshirt.
  17. thebeeremptor

    thebeeremptor Aug 12, 2018 California
    Society Trader

    I so want to be a dick and just say life must be pretty good if not-so-subtle branding on a beer shirt has you riled up enough to post on a beer forum but I won't.

    I definitely get it. There is a fine balance between making a shirt/apparel that stands out on its own that is uniquely tied to the brewer's brand and just plastering a shirt with logos and the name of the brewery. In my personal experience, a lot of the breweries I would consider getting a shirt for, keep the branding low-key, either as its sole aspect or part of a whole, and let the artwork speak for itself.

    As with bands, if the shirt stands on its own as a statement or something "cool" then the branding becomes secondary. You'll either get people "in the know" acknowledging the shirt (and the conversation that it might elicit) or people who don't know complimenting your cool shirt and potentially looking into/asking you about it.
    AlcahueteJ, beergoot, JrGtr and 3 others like this.
  18. eagles22

    eagles22 Sep 7, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I like Maine beer company and selinsgrove brewery t-shirts
    DIM, beergoot and BeastOfTheNortheast like this.
  19. teal

    teal May 3, 2012 Wisconsin

    I don't know where I sit on this. I don't really buy the merch other than a retro Hamms t-shirt.

    I do know I always look for it, just rarely been enthralled enough to buy. I'm not a hop head, a lot of small brewery merch seems to be centered around a picture of a hop cone in some fashion. Just "meh" for me so I'm not going to buy it.
    beergoot, JBogan and JayORear like this.
  20. BeerVikingSailor

    BeerVikingSailor Nov 19, 2009 Ohio

    As the owner of dozens of brewery t's - most of which I have purchased at thrift stores, I like simple clean designs as well....
    Like this one I am wearing today....
    JAFB - stands for "just another f_____ brewery!"


    this one is a fav too.....love the "Green Man" design


    have one from Maine Beer - with print - like their beer labels - that you can barely see.....bit silly
  21. JayORear

    JayORear Feb 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    The Venn diagram for this is small for me: a brewery I really love + minimalist design + doesn’t make me look like a tool. The only one I wear with any regularity is an all-black Other Half T-shirt with the logotype in all white across the chest.
  22. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aug 24, 2020 California

    One of my few brewery shirts has the statement "There's a lot to be said about head retention" across the front and the back has the brewery name in small font plus a rather large image of a beer in a pint glass with a math equation and related text describing the supposed half-life description of beer head. As an engineering geek I loved this shirt until I actually worked the stated equation and found out it had a serious math error.
    dcotom, AlcahueteJ, beergoot and 7 others like this.
  23. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    This hat manufacturer is rather pricey (Ebbets), at least in terms of branding apparel for merchandising purposes. I'm actually kind of surprised it sold out so quickly, but it was also the neutral colorway (black hat with white logo). The non-neutral colorway was up when I visited the site a few hours after release. Between the neutral colorway, the quality materials, and the simple logo, it's a hat that could be worn with just about anything. Not something I could say for most branded apparel.
  24. Squire

    Squire Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    I prefer subtlety.
  25. BeastOfTheNortheast

    BeastOfTheNortheast Dec 26, 2009 Pennsylvania

    The only beer shirts I wear are the ones I got from working at breweries. I do have a couple New Trail hoodies I bought.

    I don’t get all up in arms or judge based on what others wear. That’s just childlike.
    beergoot and oneeye like this.
  26. DavetotheB

    DavetotheB Sep 30, 2017 Pennsylvania

    A friend gave me an Alchemist T-shirt. It had the logo and "No Farms, No Beer" printed on it. You kind of have to be on the inside to know it's Alchemist, but there's no mistaking it's a beer shirt.

    I wore the shirt in public one time and a guy at the store stopped me and said, "It's No Farms, No Food, not No Farms, No Beer." My reply was, "Beer is food." He walked away with a puzzled, "I think he's right" look on his face.
    dcotom, DIM, beergoot and 3 others like this.
  27. Providence

    Providence Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I'm all for more subtlety in craft beer, not just in shirts, but in flavors too. I would like to leave the, "HEY BRO, WE'RE TOTALLY NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER'S BEER MOTHER FUCKER" phase behind.
    AlcahueteJ, beergoot, JBogan and 3 others like this.
  28. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Sep 4, 2014 Illinois
    Society Trader

    The OP's feelings definitely resonate with me. I have a shirt from On Tour Brewing that "appropriates" the Grateful Dead logo but replaces the lightning bolt with a stylized hop cone. It's likely sparked more conversations about the brewery than a shirt with their logo would. I don't mind being a walking billboard. I have a lot of swag from work, band t-shirts, geeky movie/television shirts, baseball/basketball/college gear, etc. I do want it to look good (i.e. not loud or obnoxious) and it helps if it's witty, clever, and not super popular.
  29. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, yeah - just like Col. Sander's recipe or the formula for Coca-Cola, no brewery is going to give away (or, in this case, even sell in the form of a T-Shirt) their secret. :grin:
  30. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    For those who desire an extremely loud shirt with an extremely quiet beer reference, this is for you. I believe @jesskidden has the winter parka version.

  31. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Mar 28, 2009 California

    I buy brewery shirts based on if I like the brewery and if I like the design. All my shirts are just the brewery or beer logo. They match the style of all my t shirts such as vans, volcom, RVCA etc. I pass on the shirts that have sayings like “in dog years I’ve only had 1 beer” lagunitas.
    beergoot, Harrison8 and Rug like this.
  32. PackieMcHopHead

    PackieMcHopHead Oct 1, 2009 Massachusetts

    I love inside joke-type TV/Movie shirts. My current favorite is my Ohio State football shirt with the name J. Utah on the back and jersey number. (It's a nod to the movie Point Break.) Or my Polymer Records one (This is Spinal Tap), Nakatomi Plaza one (Die Hard), or Aviator Airlines (Silicon Valley show on HBO) .... if you know, you know ... once in a while people comment on it, or I can just see the look in people's eyes when they recognize what the shirt means.
    AlcahueteJ, beergoot and CB_Michigan like this.
  33. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    Have quite a few of these, and Dickies work shirts but don't find myself wearing these too often.

    Gets into the concert T realm, where I just have too many of them and got no reason for them. Many of my GI migration week shirts have become work out shirts though, and/or painter shirts :stuck_out_tongue:
    beergoot likes this.
  34. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I don't buy brewery shirts for the reason the OP said. I don't wear casual T-shirts much to begin with, and for the few I do have, I'm not going bother with anything that screams "craft beer guy"... It's not the sort of attention I am looking for.

    Although, that shirt is fashionably loud, the brewery/beer aspect of it kind of subtle. The logo is small, and unless some one knows Bell's 3 bell logo, there's nothing else suggesting it's from a brewery.

    Actually I think Bell's has several shirt options that that are more subtle. Edit to add link: https://store.bellsbeer.com/collections/sweaters-jackets
    AlcahueteJ and beergoot like this.
  35. CB_Michigan

    CB_Michigan Sep 4, 2014 Illinois
    Society Trader

    Yes! I just ordered a Chicken Choice Judy t-shirt to see if anyone gets the reference. Would totally wear a brewery shirt like that.
    beergoot likes this.
  36. teal

    teal May 3, 2012 Wisconsin

    In a similar vein - I make the background for my zoom calls "the casting couch" - you know...

    See who recognizes it. Body language always gives it away and they can't exactly explain how they do/know in a business meeting.
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  37. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    My Lost Nation T is my favorite. Really strikes good conversations (about 50/50 beer or politics). Both are fun to discuss especially in combo. Never got in any heated debates or rants either. People are generally good out there in the really world. Avoid social media (exception Beer Advocate of course).
    Rug, readyski and beergoot like this.
  38. beergoot

    beergoot Oct 11, 2010 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Christ, I wish Flying Dog would reissue their Road Dog (as a beer) plus the t-shirt that proudly proclaimed 'Good People Drink Good Beer. No Shit'...

    I miss that old cotton rag I used to wear...
  39. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Society Trader

    This is my favorite brewery t-shirt for several reasons. One of the reasons is the subtlety of it. I agree - I wish more were like this.




  40. zac16125

    zac16125 Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    My other big hobby besides beer is music. And the bands I like have big lot merchandise scenes. Essentially since it’s just fans selling home done merchandise, it’s not officially licensed and so most often doesn’t have band names or official logos on it. So instead it’s often takes on specific songs or insides jokes or what not with a creative twist. So for example instead of a shirt that just says “Phish” with their logo, it might be a shirt with a picture of the marshmallow man and say “Fluffhead” (one of their songs); or instead of a shirt that has a Grateful Dead logo it might be a parody of the old budweiser logo with the words changed to “Great Bass, Lesh Filling” (in regards to Phil Lesh). I like to wear those kinds of shirts, it’s much more subtle than just wearing a band name on your shirt, plus if you are wearing it around town and someone gets it then you have that immediate connection with them. Would be cool if some of the craft breweries adopted merchandise with subtleties like that!
    Jaycase likes this.
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