“You can have the best beer, but a label is what sells the product,”

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by sandiego67, Jul 20, 2012.

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  1. BrownNut

    BrownNut Devotee (428) Jul 11, 2011 Florida

    That's got to be some old ass Hoptimum. How'd it taste? I saw some pretty dated Hoptimum on the shelf a while back and skipped it because I figured its hops would be sad ghosts. Figured I'd catch it fresher next year.
  2. NeidhartVonReuenthal

    NeidhartVonReuenthal Initiate (124) Oct 2, 2012 Virginia

    Flying Dog makes some great beers, but the packages are seriously ugly. It looks like someone vomited all over them.
    TinCup69 likes this.
  3. aubuc1

    aubuc1 Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2007 Florida

    I think that a label has some effect on the experience for most people. I might be deciding between two great IPA's, and the "cool" label might sway me subconsciously. We are not robots; sometimes we cannot control which sense controls our emotions.
  4. NiceTaps

    NiceTaps Savant (979) Nov 21, 2011 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Pliny the Elder, Heady Topper, BCBS, ZD, Rochefort, etc., yeah, I buy those because of the label, right.
    SawDog505 likes this.
  5. JuicesFlowing

    JuicesFlowing Poo-Bah (2,078) Jul 5, 2009 Kansas

    How many of us would prefer every beer we buy to be white label with black lettering that reads BEER. No, labels do not make great beer, but they make great beer aesthetically pleasing, and that's a great thing.

    *edit: waiting for "But yeah, so-and-so beer is garbage but the label looks good" comment. you know what i mean. artwork matters
  6. ValleyOfTheSuds

    ValleyOfTheSuds Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2012 Arizona

    Disagree. Their labels and pretty extreme standardization works very well and plays to their ideals of being a Wisconsin only, "purist" approach and beers. When you see a New Glarus bottle, regardless of which beer it is, you IMMEDIATELY know it's a New Glarus beer and you know which line/series of beer it's from.

    Standard 12oz bottle: Regular release or seasonal brew.
    Foiled 12oz bottle: A Thumbprint (or Unplugged) beer.
    500ml stubby bottle: R&D Series (kind of an outlier, seeing as how it's not in stores).
    Waxed 750ml bottle: One of their fruit beers.

    You could see a low-res photo of lineup of twenty bottles and while you may not know exactly what beers they are, you'd immediately know they were New Glarus and you'd know what line/series. When I'm back in Wisconsin, my eyes are immediately looking for those plain tan and green six pack holders and card boxes and I get excited to then check out which beers they are. I actually think they do a great job with their branding in general.
    johzac and MarcatGSB like this.
  7. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (4,983) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Supporter Beer Trader

    And before I was married I dated a lot of pretty packages until I discovered what was on the inside (which matters more than anything) and then they were drain pours.
  8. ValleyOfTheSuds

    ValleyOfTheSuds Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2012 Arizona

    To sort of expand on what others were saying, the thing with beers like Westvleteren 12, Rochefort and St Bernardus is that while their labels (or lack there of) may not over the top cutting edge design, that's what makes the packaging great. The labels speak to the beer itself and reinforce the image of monks toiling away making that beer and harken to a different time. Anything else just wouldn't be right.

    I think Stone is doing a GREAT job with their designs lately. In the past, I think they've been lacking in some ways, but they've stepped it up. Their recent collaboration designs are a great example of them doing it right, IMO. Again, pretty simple and almost a template (like NG), but you immediately know it's a Stone collaboration and can see a clear difference between each of the individual collaborations. By having the logos of each brewery in the same area, you can quickly find that, too. Plus they're just pretty great looking.

    Point is, labels/packaging most certainly has a large impact in many ways, whether or not you notice or care to admit it (I am a little biased, though). If done right, you can see a beer and know things about it without knowing anything about the brewery or reading a single detail on the label.

    Lost Abbey is actually a good example of this, though, I don't care for their labels (especially some of the recent Track artwork, as mentioned). But, by having their corked/caged bottles, their standardized, unusual shaped label and the name itself, you already know they're Belgian style beers, there's an implication of high quality beer inside and you know it's a Lost Abbey beer.

    Side note: Almanac's recent designs are strong enough that they make me want to try the beers, even though I know nothing about them. I can't help but want to like the beer.
  9. Stockfan42

    Stockfan42 Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2009 Massachusetts

    I couldn't care less about the label.
    SawDog505 likes this.
  10. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (479) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    I have to admit even though I've advanced enough to know its not about what's on the label, flashy labels do catch my eye and at the very least makes me take a closer look at it which brings me one step closer to buying it.

    Dare you to say that's stupid to a 1990's Walken in person. I dare you.
    gcamparone likes this.
  11. Lare453

    Lare453 Meyvn (1,322) Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Disagree... murd'd out stout. Westy. Dfh 60, 90, 120, wws. brooklyn black chocolate stout. Raspy. Countless others.
  12. Lare453

    Lare453 Meyvn (1,322) Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Oh. And pliny
  13. peteinSD

    peteinSD Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2010 California

    depends on whether the consumer has any beer knowledge.
  14. dmnielsen

    dmnielsen Initiate (0) Jul 1, 2011 Michigan

    Personally, I pack away an empty bottle of anything new I try, so sometimes I like to have a nice label/bottle design.

    I have heard stories of large spikes in Arcadia sales after package changes a few years ago. If those stories are to be believed they may say something about what consumers look for.
  15. Ivegotmule

    Ivegotmule Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 North Carolina

    Etched bottles are my favorite. But some of the best beers I've had are in plain ish bottles. But that's better for us who know so the random shopper will grab the fanciest looking bottle.
  16. poopinmybutt

    poopinmybutt Initiate (84) May 25, 2005 Nebraska

    every idiot knows rarity is what sells the product
  17. VonZipper

    VonZipper Disciple (399) Feb 9, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    I actually didn't know that.
  18. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I didn't know you didn't know :grimacing:
  19. SawDog505

    SawDog505 Poo-Bah (2,714) Apr 9, 2010 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    I didn't purchase Stone for so many years, because I thought the bottle looked cheap. Huge mistake and I will never discriminate again.
    VonZipper likes this.
  20. VonZipper

    VonZipper Disciple (399) Feb 9, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    I think that the best label thing only applies to the uninitiated. I usually check ba on my phone if i have a question on something I haven't seen before. It is awesome when a good beer has great art.
  21. LivingWeapon

    LivingWeapon Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2012 Illinois

    Three Floyds and Jester King have the whole package
    VonZipper likes this.
  22. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Westy has a certain plainness of appearance that is fitting for a beer brewed to support a monastery and not for profit. Not that the monks think of branding, but the look really does fit the story well. DFH 60, 90, and 120 are simple but attractive, and I really love the shark logo. There is very unified look to most of their year round and seasonal offerings as well as WWS, and their one-offs always have beautiful, artsy labels that catch the eye. Brooklyn Black Chocolate has the attractive Brooklyn logo on a field of little stars, a classy script font, and an eyecatching gold and white on black colour scheme.

  23. BigTomZ

    BigTomZ Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Virginia

    The guy makes labels for a brewer that can't seem to consistently produce properly carbonated and uninfected beers. I find this funny.
  24. stealth

    stealth Zealot (507) Dec 16, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Being a graphic designer in one of my lines of work, I naturally gravitate towards a good looking presentation when scanning the shelves. That being said, I don't base my purchase on that alone, but many that don't know better will. Look at the crisp design of a GI bottle that screams high end quality, then look at the bottle that uses Comic Sans as their logo font and you tell me which one is going to get more appeal.
    imbrue001 likes this.
  25. drgarage

    drgarage Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2008 California

    More crucially, I think their labels are nothing to crow about.
  26. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I really wish Americans would get away from the whole idea that image sells products....I mean, it does to an extent, but I think the craft beer movement (or really any grassroots movement that is based on quality products...for example, a ton of music) has proven that people only care about the product inside the packaging. Honestly I dont think I've ever looked at a beer label and said "Wow I want to try this!". Usually the only thing i look at the label for is to figure out what style of beer it is.
  27. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Meyvn (1,187) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    My first craft brew, many moons ago, was a flying dog, due to the Steadman artwork. Cheers
    CerealKillerKP and Hotmetal1 like this.
  28. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Do you ever read the labels? Look for a description of the beer, what exotic ingredients it contains, the breweries description of the flavour profile, a story behind why the beer was made or how the brewery was founded. That's all on the label, and it's all part of the image the brewery wants to present. It's all branding and marketing.

    Momar42 likes this.
  29. Gannon81

    Gannon81 Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2012 Oregon

    Lagunitas soars at this. For example, their is no substitute for Brown Shuggah.
  30. squirrely2005

    squirrely2005 Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2011 Texas

    Real Ale's Devil's Backbone just changed the artwork on the label and I hate it. It was the first craft beer I had and what converted me. I love the shit out of the beer but hate looking at the bottle. If I had never had it before I'd probably not try it.
    They also just came out with a new beer series that I really like a lot and I like the packaging. http://brewerscut.com/home

    It makes a difference for sure.
  31. arfenhouse

    arfenhouse Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2012 California

    I usually enjoy the look of a screen-printed bottle.
    LostTraveler likes this.
  32. imbrue001

    imbrue001 Aspirant (216) Aug 6, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Labels are everything. Why spend all that time/effort/money into starting a brewery and creating great beer just to then put your product in some lame package? Whats it cost to find a designer.. a couple hundred to a few thousand? I mean, its a no brainer. And yeah, I get it, the name of the game is to stand out in the crowd. That may be difficult. Breweries should strive to do that anyway.

    Lets take Maine Beer Co. for example. The first time they landed in my store, I noticed. I though it was just some generic crap and I passed over it. White labels, stick figure artwork, strange sized bottles...whatever, neeeext. Then people started talking about them on sites like BA and I did my homework. Turns out the beer inside is supposed to be really good. Hmmm so the cheapest (Peeper) is $5.99. Wow that's a lot for a pale ale. Ok I'll try it once. MMmmm, this is good..and look the label is not really white, its more like a pearlescent ivory. :stuck_out_tongue: So it turns out they aren't really generic beer makers, just maybe a bit pretentious. And probably hipsters. That's my honest conclusion based on experience. It now taints my desire to try some of their other (albeit supposed) good beer. Make a different style of label/bottle and my perception would probably be different.
    Brutalism_X likes this.
  33. Douberd

    Douberd Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 Netherlands

    If I was in a beer store, about to choose between two beers of the same style, price, ABV etc and one had a cool label where the other had just some letters on it, I would certainly go for the cool labeled beer. In fact, this happens quite often, as I tend to pass on the highly acclaimed beers of De Molen brewery (simple labels) in favour of other beers with more eye catchy labels. Well, that and the price too.
  34. Ericness

    Ericness Initiate (186) Nov 21, 2012 Massachusetts

    Disagree. Many times I've bought a beer because of a cool label or name and regretted it. It was early in my beer journey so I don't recall any names to name but avoiding stuff made to look flashy became a rule of mine unless I knew more about the brewery or loved the style. On the the flipside, I picked up a Hoptimus Prime the other based on name and loved it so its not a perfect rule.

    And then there's stuff like Maine Beer's Zoe which is so awesome that the only label needed is essentially and all white band with the name probably a 14 font smiley face. I feel like in this community a good beer will sell itself and flashy labels are something to be wary of.
  35. Hotmetal1

    Hotmetal1 Aspirant (286) Feb 28, 2012 Mississippi
    Beer Trader

    Can't get a more gerneric lable but a fine beer.
  36. TheJollyHop

    TheJollyHop Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2009 California

    Tasting and word of mouth aside, most goods in our society are sold as the result of clever marketing and unique branding, which is more often than not primary in focus in regards to the actual technology/application of said product. Everything else being equal, the most enticing label will sell the product.

    In regards to Russian River labeling, I never thought it was ugly, but rather just understated. However the first thought I had when I first started randomly purchasing beer was, "well, if the label art sucks the contents can't be that much better!"
  37. dglgmut

    dglgmut Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    As someone who works in beer retail, I would unfortunately have to agree with this. The majority of people will buy beer (and wine) mostly becuase the label is appealing. Unless I hand sell them something, anyone who is looking for something new will usually buy something with an attractive label. Of course, this doesn't really apply to the big beer geeks, but on average this is true.
  38. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,183) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    Think this hits the nail on the head. A flashy label, regardless of the quality of the contents, will appeal to people who are new to craft or remain in that phase. Would you have tried Zoe when you first started? No - wouldnt even notice it on the shelf, right?Cheap looking label that doesnt catch the eye means a poor product as you said. But personally, while I like the label art and much of it is awesome, I find an understated, simple label elegant in a way. Either way is no guarantee, as most of us learn.

    Frankly I am surprised at the high quality of the a lot of craft beer labels. They are ridiculously expensive and some of them look pretty difficult to apply.
    meefmoff likes this.
  39. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I'm going to have to differ with you on the generic-ness of the label. They typefaces used are pretty novel, and the label itself is clearly designed to evoke some olde-tyme idea of a tonic or provision. And the face that there are blanks filled in with a "typewriter" (not to mention the wax) imply that it's fairly limited brew.

    If something is branded well, everything is intentional.
    meefmoff, LeRose and Hotmetal1 like this.
  40. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    The only thing I look at sometimes is what style it is, which I think is required by law to be there, no?
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