We fell in love with the bonkers fantasy creatures that sit (and stand and dance) at the heart of the Canopy Brew Co brand design. So we asked co-founder Estelle Theobalds about the story behind the images and were delighted to know that the story goes deeper than just the can design. The company’s motto – “brewers of craft beer & humble glories” – celebrates small endeavours as well as bigger triumphs, imperfections and the daft side of life. Given the year we’ve all just had, we’re very much on board with that.
Hi Estelle! What’s the story behind the eye-catching Canopy brand / design? “In 2018, when the brewery was 4 years old, we set out to redesign our brand. By then we felt confident in our beers, our customers and our ethos, and we wanted to be able to communicate that via our labels. From the outset we have wanted our brand to be inclusive and modern in its visual language (as a female founder and beer drinker, I wanted to make a brand that would appeal to me personally!) but our original designs, whilst fun, non-traditional and bright, didn’t really express the character of the brewery.
“We sat down and pulled apart our brewery personality, asking ourselves why we existed, and who we make beer for? Why did we start this? What’s the point of us? We realised that our vision was to champion the underdog and our local community, and to help people feel everyday rewarded. That beer at the end of the day might be commonplace, but the joy it brings makes the day’s toil worthwhile. We can provide that daily reward; and that’s where our motto “Brewers of craft beer & humble glories” comes from. Maybe you put up that shelf that you’ve been putting off for months; maybe you hung the washing out? Well done. These are the humble glories of everyday life, and they should be celebrated!
“Community is at the heart of everything we do – our tap room is a local hub and social occasions bring people together. We sponsor local athletes at a grassroots level, including Silvi Vargas, an up-and-coming BMX rider; Monstars FC, our local Ultimate Frisbee team The Jolly Rogers and Sunday Echapeé, a local cyclocross race team. All of them come together for a beer in the tap room, and that’s what links us.”
How does this come to life in your design? “It was important to us to convey that we are down-to-earth, playful and optimistic. We are not a hype brewery, we are a local brewery and value loyalty over flash gimmicks. Our growth has been organic and slightly haphazard; adding more equipment and people, bolting on extras as needed. Yes, a brand-new spick and span facility might be nice, but does it have character?
“To express this, we looked to the old parlour game Consequences (also known as Exquisite Corpse) where one person starts by drawing a head, folds it over and the next adds a body, and so on. The results are inevitably odd, daft, funny and endearing – a bit like Canopy. You wouldn’t make it like that, but you wouldn’t change it either. With a nod to our original label designs we commissioned various artists (mainly local, of course!) to draw animals for us, and then we chopped them up to create our Canopy misfits that you see on the cans. The beauty in it is that you never know when you see the artwork come in how it will ultimately look on a can. There’s beauty in imperfections!
“Our beer mats encourage customers to draw their own misfits, and you can make your own on our website creator too! https://www.canopybeer.com/creature-creator“
Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “In terms of other beer packaging, I love Boundary’s artwork. Each beer has a painting inspired by the beer, and I love the connection between the visual and the taste. It really connects you to what is to come.”
When you knock off on a Friday, what’s your go to beer? “Anything goes for Friday beers, it’s totally mood and weather based. I’m very seasonal in my tastes so lagers and sours in the summer and malt-forward dark beers in the winter. It’s fun to try new beers, but as a fall back it’s always great to know that there’s usually a can of Brockwell lurking in the fridge somewhere. That’s my old faithful and it’s always great, even if I’m biased. I’m getting into natural wines too, the range of flavours and complexity compared to mass market wine is incredible – much like the difference between craft and big beer I guess. I like my booze unrefined, flavour-packed and raw.”
What’s your favourite bar? “The State Bar in Glasgow – not for the beer selection but for the number of frankly brilliant nights full of chat and friends that I’ve had there. It’s an old-school pub with an awesome horseshoe bar and if you’ve been to Glasgow, you’ll know that one of the best parts of any night out is the random chat from absolute strangers, and bumping into friends wherever you go. We tried to replicate that “Cheers” era bonhomie in our own bar, The Sympathetic Ear.”
Favourite bar snack? “Old school choice again – Scampi Fries. Or maybe salted peanuts. Even better, mix them in the packet for what we call a Wigan Salad.”
What have you been listening to recently? “With 3 kids under 7, my listening is dominated by their demands. They are currently obsessed with Kero Kero Bonito, especially Trampoline. It’s fun, and catchy. When I wrestle control, we agree on Apricots by Bicep.”
Reading / watching anything interesting? “I recently finished Shoe Dog by Nike founder Phil Knight which was an inspiring read, and super interesting to learn about the early struggles and the real people involved in what is now a seemingly indomitable multinational corporation. For some light relief I’m watching The Great. It’s very silly, rude and funny, loosely based on the story of Catherine the Great of Russia. I love black humour.”
What are you looking forward to in 2021? “EVERYTHING. Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get out and get back on with all those things we took for granted in life. Museums, art galleries, restaurants, pubs, friends, swimming.”
Cats or dogs? “Chickens and goats. I dream of life on a productive smallholding.”
Controversial. Though as fans of Goat of the Day on Twitter, we can kind of see where you’re coming from, Estelle.
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