This year has been fertile for design and packaging in the beer and spirits industry.
Craft beer has hopped (pun intended) onto the global stage, gin has hit the mainstream and rum is starting to poke its head above the spirit parapet – and every brand has tried to differentiate itself from its competitors, whether using a playful, original, concept-based, subtly tweaked or revealing identity.
We've picked out our favourites, from great beer labels to our favourite packaging designs – but there were plenty more that just missed the cut. We hope you enjoy our choices. Also take a look at our pick of the biggest logo designs in 2015.
01. Peroni Alta
Inspired by their Italian heritage, and its culture of 'al fresco' dining with friends, Peroni Nastro Azzuro have recently launched their 750ml Alta sharing bottle.
Elegant, beautiful and stylish, the bottle has big ambitions to change the way we drink at dinner parties – by encouraging us to switch from wine to beer. This is a bottle that you'd be proud to have on your table – and confidently gets across their key essence of 'Italian Style'.
02. Minus 33
Launched this year by highly original start-up company LoCa, Minus 33 has approached the 'art' of spirit-making with a scientific angle.
Founder Sam Trett apparently spent more than a year in the laboratory creating the perfect gin-based spirit, extensively road testing every batch. With such an experimental background, the packaging inevitably reflects this. The label is designed with more than a nod to a medicine bottle label; uncomplicated and clinical, with light colours and clear spirit completing the clean feel. Super sciencey!
03. Kraken Black Spiced Rum Ceramic
When Kraken first launched their dark rum in 2010, the bottle was instantly earmarked for greatness. The design was original, creative and unusual. This year Kraken has given the design an update with a limited edition ceramic facelift, which gives the bottle an older, well-travelled feel. It will no doubt become a collector's edition like the original.
04. Pilsner Urquell tanks
This is a project very close to our hearts. We are Pilsner Urquell's European design and tank beer agency, so we are in the privileged position of helping them roll out all their new Tankovna bars.
Throughout 2015, Pilsner Urquell introduced beer lovers to fresher, unpasteurized beer delivered straight from the brewery in Pilsen, Czech, in huge tanks (the yeast and sediment are not filtered out, giving more flavour).
Tanks are functional but beautiful – packaging in its widest sense. They are unusual, memorable and become a fundamental part of the bar. And by making a feature out of delivery – and what it adds to the final taste – surely it's doing the ultimate job of packaging?
05. House of Hazelwood series
William Grant & Sons has released three new Scotches inspired by the late Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of Glenfiddich's founder William Grant.
Each whisky is influenced by a different Art Deco city movement – in Paris, Mumbai and Shanghai – and the elegant packaging is beautifully romantic with exquisite detail. The geometric bold prints, in gold and light mint, complement the spicy flavours of the Scotch, making drinkers think of ancient and exotic lands.
Absolut has now got into a tradition of releasing limited edition versions of its iconic bottle, by collaborating with artists from the contemporary art world. For a product design that's so recognisable, it would be risky to modify it too much, but this year Absolut worked with The Brand Union to make some subtle changes.
The shape of the bottle was slightly altered, with stronger, more defined shoulders given to the structure. The most noticeable change though, was the adoption of a new frosted 'A' logo on the back; a strong statement that adds some dimension to the clear bottle, and strengthens the brand's identity.
07. Sempli glasses
This year saw the launch of LA-based creative brand Sempli's 'Monti Taste' glass collection, designed specifically for enjoying craft beers. Unlike traditional rounded beer glasses, the four new designs are dominated by sharp lines and inverted angles at the base.
Each aspect has been carefully considered to maximise the benefits to the beer pour – the shapes encourage the beer to be poured in such a way that enhances the flavour (the Monti-Pils glass is taller, ensuring lagers stay fizzier for longer).
08. Mr Black
Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liquor has created a label with extensive attention to detail. A beautifully intricate illustration of Mr Black dominates the bottle, but is only revealed once the levels of the spirit lower, adding to the mystery of the dark character.
09. Goldhawk Ale
With such a memorable name, Goldhawk was always going to need a strong logo to reflect the defining features of their mascot. They have avoided using any distracting text on the front label, and instead created a bold design of a hawk, in one colour, on a transparent sticker to show the colour of the golden or pale ale. Visually impactful, it gives the craft beer a strong identity in a competitive market.
Even being the world's most popular German beer doesn't guarantee a brand a comfortable position. With the growing popularity of small breweries and craft beers, Becks took the decision to give their brand a creative reboot.
Working with the design team at BBDO, a special limited edition 'scratch' package was produced. Coating the green bottle in an aluminium foil, drinkers could scratch in their own doodle designs; tapping into the idea that we are all creatures of habit who like to pick at our beer labels. A fun concept, with an interactive edge to inspire a younger, creative audience.
Words: Jamie Fleming
Jamie Fleming works at Purple Creative.
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