Beer Guide: What's on the Outside Counts

Craft brewers are using art to tell their story.

Beer Guide
Beer Here: An Introduction
Beer Masters
Hop to It
What's on the Outside Counts
Beers to Go

As a graphic designer for Hourglass Brewing in Longwood, Bill Murphy spends time with the brewmasters while they cook. He knows where their ideas come from, what kinds of grains and hops were used and the ingredients that make the brew special.

“Art and beer are one in the same at some point,” he says.

More and more craft brewers want what’s on the outside of their product to match the artistry that’s inside. Many have in-house artists to design their cans, bottles, tap handles, packaging and more.

For Crooked Can Brewing in Winter Garden, an interesting beer can wasn’t enough. They wanted a character to represent their company—a cool guy who was all about having fun. His name is McSwagger.

Each brew depicts McSwagger—a long bearded, sharply dressed man with a monocle—in a different scenario, many of which embody the company’s work hard, play hard slogan. On their Mr. Tractor Kolsch beer, for instance, McSwagger is relaxing on a tractor after working hard outside.

“[The art is] a quick representation of what you’re all about,” says Crooked Can co-owner Jared Czachorowski.

Stephanie Rogg, general manager at the downtown Orlando World of Beer, says more craft breweries are striving to offer their customers a full experience. Breweries use their labels to tell the consumer a story, not only about the beer, but about the company that created it.

“You’re enjoying a beer for more than just the flavor profile. You’re getting more out of it,” she says. “We leave the bottles on the table [after they’re poured] because we want people to look at them.”

She says artful designs also help sell the beer. A cool beer label or a tap handle that stands out among dozens of others at a craft beer bar might pique someone’s interest.

“It catches the eye of customers. It’s a conversation piece,” Rogg says.

Murphy says there’s no better place to create than a craft brewery because they’re not afraid to take risks. He says the past way of branding beer is fading, with some breweries pushing the brewery logo to the back to save the front space for art.

“You have breweries saying whatever, it’s fun,” he says. “They’re a very laid-back crowd.”

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