In the not so distant past, in fact in very recent times, the humble beer can was a simple beast. Its biggest selling points being pretty much multi-pack value, the freedom from bottle openers and the fact that you were unlikely to get glassed by someone drinking one.
Salt of the earth, beloved of big companies, house parties and those who like to swally on the horizontal comfort of park benches, the can was not exactly haute couture.
Sure you could probably grab a tin of Red Stripe at a hip gig and if you wanted to seek out an on-point dive bar you could find a few cans to spark… but for the most part, cans of beer were more Men Behaving Badly than Beer On Fleek.
How things have changed. Now fridges and shelves are a veritable maelstrom of colour and creativity; as if craft (and not so craft) brewers have hung around on Art School degree show day looking for commercially savvy graduates to snap up as showcasers of their beery business.
As brews become more and more removed from the old faithful recipes and new experiments throw up crazy concoctions for the social media generation: Passionfruit Milkshake IPAs, Whisky Barrel Aged Coffee Pecan Mud Cake Stouts (sounds like a bam up … but isn’t) and Pumpkin & Cranberry Sour Porters (sounds like an experimental post-punk band… but isn’t), so these brands need designs which embody these creative characteristics and reinforce the youthful, subculture brand values they wish to embody.
Brands are desperate for that Instagram credibility, designs, colour and energy which help cultivate a loyal following and make a mark in an almost ludicrously competitive sector. In the arms race for shelf space, catching the customer’s eye (and capturing the stockist’s imagination) good design is separating the wheat from the chaff.
The debate about what constitutes craft rages on in the beer world, but that’s a topic for another blog, another time. For now, here’s just a few of our current canned brand favourites:
Starting close to home, Glaswegian artist John Felix has created fantastically trippy and joyously coloured designs to create a family of cans that grab the eye and put a smile on your face.
The Danish dons of craft beer are now icons of hoppy design thanks to the skills of Keith Shore, whose designs have fluidity, fun whilst being instantly recognisably ‘Mikeller’. Simply fabulous.
OTHER HALF NYC
We love the neon playfulness, dream pop vibes and spectrum jumping colours of these cool Brooklyn brewers. Beers are canned in limited editions and new releases cause serious hype on Instagram with each one having the feel of a genuine collectors item. These are beers for dreamers, hops for optimists, super fun and a cosmic leap from the macho, corporate beers of yesteryear.
Inspired by the Atelier Popular graphic poster art in 60s Paris, this monochrome design is loose, striking and a curious but effective contrast of rough edges, soft lettering and dark imagery. Funky, bold and in stark contrast to so many of its wildly coloured canned peers, it really hits the mark.
With a playful, dynamic, Neu-Generation approach to life and beer, this brand has found the perfect energetic, vibrant packaging for its product. Seemingly both throwback and futuristic, this look is full of zing and wallop (yes these are legit technical terms) and scream ‘good times with mates’; with a focus on craft lagers rather than heavier styles, this bright colourful approach also suits the product they’re punting.
Now all this talk of cool craft beer, funky brews and edgy cans has gone me right thirsty. I’m off for a nice cold … pint of Tennent’s.