In our last beer/design challenge, we asked a bunch of our friends to bring over beers they’ve never tasted that had great design, and we noticed something interesting: people brought cans. Good design isn’t restricted to labels, and as cans are darlings of hipster indie breweries, they tend to have some pretty interesting design — and the beer is getting pretty good too. Resident graphic designer Olivia picked some of her favorites and we put them to the test: blindly tasting all of the beer first, then ranking all of their designs, then revealing which beer was which. After it all, one of us admitted to preferring the pop and fizz of drinking straight from the can. One had no preference. As for the other two, as Jay put it, “There’s nothing better than drinking Lonestar out of the bottle outside a dive bar in Texas.” Amen.
From the Blind TASTE Test:
Jay: Grassy? Kinda hoppy, but really light, could drink like 8 of these in a night (and would enjoy it and myself). Farmhouse.
Olivia: Hoppy, skunky, tasty! It’s an IPA for sure.
Eliza: Light and hoppy, this is a beer I’d like to get drunk on. But it’s a little too hoppy for me to drink casually.
Emily: Yum! This tastes like a yummy summer beer. A little bitter at the end but not overwhelming. It’s an amiable IPA! Amiable IPA is a great name, I should make a brewery and call it that. Or a band! I don’t normally drink IPAs but I adore this.
Thoughts on DESIGN:
Jay: Big Lebowsky? Hard to decipher and the triangles feel gimmicky. Feels generic and “weird.”
Olivia: The dude on this can is kind of scary! He reminds me of someone from the Big Lebowski, This is my least favorite. I’m not into the geometric style. He is just trying to be too cool.
Eliza: I can’t read this! I like the geometric shapes and the color scheme but the print isn’t legible. Also the background yellow is boring AF. Like a bad ’70’s rug.
Emily: I love the lightning bolt graphic but I’m not a fan of the faded yellow, brown, and beige. It looks like ’70s stylized Urban Outfitters home accessories or someone trying to rip off Quentin Tarantino, poorly.
From the blind taste test:
Jay: Cocoa in both a “yummy milkshake” way when you first drink it, and also in a “dark chocolate bitter but yummy” way in the aftertaste. It actually only tastes better with a second sup. Burnt Popcorn, tobacco.
Olivia: Smoky and dark! Love this. It has hints of coffee, like a stout, and it’s earthy. It’s bitter but still drinkable.
Eliza: Smooth, velvety porter, a cozy beer. Frothy and wintery, makes me feel
happy horny. This beer is like that naked photo of Burt Reynolds.
Emily: Dang that looks dark. It doesn’t taste that dark though. A little chocolatey and coffee tasting, but it’s not creamy at all so very drinkable. I also don’t normally like dark beer but I’d drink this happily.
thoughts on Design:
Jay: Looks crafty but still new — a nice marriage of traditional and weird. I like that it’s restrained enough to just have the graphic dominate. Looks like a beer you’d drink to feel unique but not one you’d drink to look unique to other people
Olivia: I love this one. The Baba logo is great and the can gives off the feeling of being dark while staying light in color. I fucking love the sheep and the compass on the top. Adventure is calling and we are heading west!
Eliza: I love the compass look at the top, the off white kind of creamy color, the font variation. It’s newsprint-like. Hi sheep! <3 baaa. The block letters on Baba are nice.
Emily: Love the compass detail around the top and the mix of typefaces on the back. It looks like an old newspaper to me. Beige is bold in this case! Don’t see many cans like this. Very cool.
From the blind Taste test:
Jay: Kind of skunky or smelly. What I really don’t like is that it isn’t pungently skunky, it tastes watered down. Sour Yeast (wish it were more, though).
Olivia: Sweet and fruity! So fresh and light for summer. This is the lightest one.
Eliza: Somehow sour and bland at the same time. Tastes like cologne or Bud Light with vinegar. Ew.
Emily: Yummy! Also summery and fruity. Smells kind of pumpkiny and sour, but tastes crisp and peachy.
thoughts on Design:
Jay: Name sounds like a Bob’s Burger’s pun. The whole illustration style is like a cartoon I would want to watch. This makes me smile, though it seems a little cloying. The font seems “done” and overly crafty.
Olivia: this illustration is great and slightly whimsical. I love the barge filled with watermelon. The format of this can is unusual and I appreciate that. I think beer bottles should incorporate illustration more frequently.
Eliza: Obviously an interesting graphic, I like the teal color but I think it’s too monochromatic with the Statue of Liberty. I do love the wave and cloud detail and the crown hung on the bridge. Also that one flying black bird!
Emily: I love the teal and vintage comic looking iconography. It reminds me of Japanese art (the Great Wave off Kanagawa). Lady Liberty is a babe, and the Golden Gate Bridge is a great place for her to park her fanny.
From the blind Taste test:
Jay: Smells smoky in a nice way. Earthy. Mustache-clinging foam feels thick and velvety.
Olivia: Very mild. Tastes pilsnery. Probably my least favorite, it’s kind of boring and uninspiring.
Eliza: This beer would be great with a burger. It’s a lightly hoppy amber, inoffensive and dry. A good happy hour beer.
Emily: Light, but my least favorite. Smells a little like Bud light but also coffee or something? It’s tangy but not in a positive way.
Olivia: The flavors change depending on what order you drink the beer in. The third beer was my second favorite when I tried it before the second beer, but when I tasted it again after drinking the second beer, I liked it less.
thoughts on Design:
Jay: Love the X. Simple, salty, and beachy. Really love how simple and unassuming it is it is.
Olivia: So fun! It feels like a beer for camping or boy scout adventures. I love the mix of typefaces. This is the perfect beer to channel my Wes Anderson obsession.
Eliza: Boring. But obviously I love that it’s called “Driftwood Ale” because I love maritime shit. I do like how the design can be seen as either yellow X’s or white diamonds! It’s harlequiny.
Emily: This wins for looking most like its name. It could be out of “Moonrise Kingdom” with the arrowhead logo, mustard hue, and bold details. The big X across the can could be a scout’s honor, and the tagline, “Come as you are,” is SO Wes Anderson. Very Montauk old school, or how it is in my imagination.