Moor design, please. Ich Bin Ben.

Ben King, of Ich Bin Ben is one of the nicest guys in the business. He’s been working with Justin Hawke of Moor since 2009 across various iterations of the brand design, including last year’s relaunch, showing once again how a great beer brand can evolve as the business changes, without becoming unrecognisable and losing all its heritage (yes, we’re looking at you, Anchor). He talks about his influences, the Moor project and the ultimate Scotch egg.

What’s your design background? “Predictably prescriptive I think – I always loved comics; it was the Dandy early doors and then typically of the late 90s Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Steve Dillon (plus honourable mention for the indomitable Viz). I knew that I was destined to be one of the great graphic novelists but an absence of illustration ability quickly buried this dream (I’m still unable to draw hands). I did a year of Foundation Art at Salisbury College then a graphic design degree at Kingston University. I landed a job as a junior designer at big fish® in SW London who had just secured a large client and needed someone keen (I was) who did what they were told (I broadly did) and didn’t mind ginger hair being a studio punchline (I didn’t have a choice).

I set up Ich Bin Ben in 2012 and it was my single most gratifying career move. I now split my time working for design agencies (where I’m one of a team of people working for companies as diverse as Bacardi, Burberry and Durex) and smaller projects where I am the creative lead. Plus I had an all-too-brief stint laying out Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants comic some years ago which brought that young dream gratifyingly full circle. Fortunately, I didn’t have to draw his bloody hands.

What are your influences as a designer? “I love old typography. Anything from old maps to vintage beer labels to Victorian apothecary advertising, when you could get heroin on prescription. I also love Art Deco typography, the opulence and craft of it all. But there’s also a time and place for a well kerned word-mark in Gotham Light on a business card. Rough/clean, intricate/bold – the sheer breadth of inspiration available is what keeps it exciting.

I had the good fortune to meet the late, great Alan Fletcher and his back catalogue reads like a timeline of modern graphic design. He had such visual wit, and a career so comprehensive he was both an inspiration and a formidably intimidating icon.”

Artwork by Alan Fletcher

Tell us about your work with Moor: “My old boss Perry met Justin from Moor in a pub in Somerset in 2009, and they discussed a rebrand over some beers. 

At the time, Moor was a team of 3, a small brewery based in a milking shed on a farm in Somerset. Labels were hand-applied to bottles and in the winter Justin cuddled every bottle to keep it from freezing (he would tell a different story involving an electric blanket, but the care for the beer amounts to the same). Their labels were evocative of Arthurian legend, traditional illustrations on beers named things like Merlin’s Magic and Somerland Gold – appropriate for their location in the Somerset levels, but slightly out of step with a just-emerging national-craft-beer movement. They did have the greatest strapline though, with Drink Moor Beer.

“The following Friday my boss announced that there was a bank holiday weekend project for anyone who wanted it. All I knew about Justin at the time was that he was from New York (he’s from California) and he had fallen in love with British beer and its heritage. My aim with the design was to merge these two details to create a Moor ‘coat of arms’ – blending the Art Deco “Moor Beer Company” logo with a none-more-classically-British Clarendon type-face. The resulting shield logo adorned virtually all of Moor’s materials until last year and looked like nothing else around.

Moor’s original design

In the early days, there were only a dozen beers, differentiated just by colour. But the range was growing and customers weren’t always clear on the differences between say, a double IPA, and a whisky barrel-aged imperial stout. So last year the range was pared down, the design updated and the cans relaunched. Designers can be quite embarrassed about logos being front and centre, preferring to hide them away, but the Moor marque has always been big, bold and unmistakeable and we wanted to keep it so with the rebrand. It was embellished with the hop vine illustration and includes the year Justin took over the brewery to underline the heritage (14 years is a long time in craft beer).

Beers are now Core grey or Limited Edition white (at least they are when there isn’t a worldwide aluminium shortage), and the artwork illustrations are inspired by anything from punk-rock lyrics to a galaxy far, far away. The hop vines, representative of the hop-heavy flavours of the whole Moor canon (and indeed, Justin’s tattoos), are threaded through each design. 

The rebrand was a process of some months and the relaunch date ended up coinciding with a nationwide lockdown, courtesy of a viral pandemic – I think it made the news – and so we’ve yet to have the launch party we all want, but watch this space for summer.”

Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why?
“I loved the original Camden Town look – the punchy colours and mixture of decorative typographic headlines really worked for me. I’m also a big fan of Delirium Tremens – a type-face i’d have been fired for in a previous job, pastel blue, bright pink AND there’s an elephant. It is just unique: I would love to have been at the pitches for that one.”

When you knock off on a Friday, what’s your go to beer?
“It changes with the seasons, but Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is ubiquitous for a reason, and is often in the fridge. But, and biased as I am, when I can get hold of it I would swear by Moor’s Hoppiness for rounding off a week – it is just delicious, and almost certainly my desert island beer.

Favourite bar? “This has changed with time of life of course, but the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London has had a good deal of my custom. On the south banks of the Thames you can watch the sun rise and set over the city, it’s such a lovely spot to sit with a pint and chips. The Square and Compass in Worth Matravers is a place lost in time which is well worth a visit too. There is a hatch not a bar, the ceiling is concussively low, but you can get cask beer, a cheese pie and spend the afternoon watching the sea. 

Favourite bar snack? “It is hard to beat a good Scotch Egg (although there is little more disappointing than cutting into one with a hard yolk). James from Moor Beer used to work in a pub in Somerset and once served a black pudding and chorizo Scotch Egg which was, I think, the apex.”

What have you been listening to recently?Bob Dylan pretty solidly: it helps that his back catalogue is so vast but I find him a good companion if I’m spending the afternoon illustrating. Otherwise Bad Religion, Tom Morello and Laura Marling have also been on recent rotation. I find podcasts pretty conducive company to working too – the background conversation is more reminiscent of being in the studio. John Richardson & The Futurenauts and the BBC History Extra podcast are fascinating listens, and Budpod (an extraordinary mix of musings about the human condition and devastating anecdotes about soiling yourself) is hilarious.”

Reading / watching anything interesting? “During lockdown I have been reading a lot of travel writers as a remedy to not having gone more than 10 miles from my front door in 6 months. Tim Moore’s Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy about a woefully ill-equipped old man riding up mountains just made me laugh. For fiction, I really enjoyed Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series – blending a desert-dry sense of humour, morally gray characters, medieval European folklore PLUS a hero who still batters monsters to death with a bloody great sword – it just ticked so many boxes.”

Cats or dogs? “I’m going to cowardly sit on the fence here, having previously had both as pets, and heck if the world doesn’t need more divisive opinions. Both are excellent; I like the self-cleaning nature of the former, but it’s hard to beat the unconditional love of the latter.”

Thanks Ben!

To find out more about Ich Bin Ben:
Website: http://www.ichbinben.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/picbinben/?hl=en

Brewery profile: Exale

When we were researching the book, our mate Dan, who was fixing up Exale’s taproom, said ‘They’d be great in the book’ and sometimes it’s as easy as that. We liked the story of how the name came about (when they left Tottenham Hale they wanted to be Exhale (geddit?) but had to drop the H on the advice of lawyers (kerching), we loved the striking design on the core range of cans and the approach they take to working with local designers, so we had a chat with co-founder Mark Hislop. We’d have written the interview up in a strong Glaswegian accent if we could…but you’re very welcome to read it in one.

Hi Mark. What’s your overall design ethos for Exale? “Eh, I don’t think I’ve ever really thought of a design ethos before. We’ve done everything quite organically; basically we meet an artist, we like their work, have a few beers and something comes out of it. That’s what happened with Adam Brazier who did our logo and initial branding. We’ve also worked a lot with Wood Street Walls and the collective of artists they represent. So I guess our ethos is meet nice artists, get them a bit drunk and see what comes out. We’ve been fairly lucky with that approach this far haha.”

What do you want the design to say about Exale? “It varies beer to beer. I think we normally choose an artist style that works with the idea, so the Grissette Holler (below) by Jessie Richards is a riff on those old worldly Belgian bottles with drawings of farms and monasteries on them, with the West Coast it was surf themed. With Tropi the artist Darren John actually used a pineapple to apply textured paint to the design. So the artwork should give a visual cue to what you can expect from the flavours in the can, whether that’s because the artwork depicts flavours or whether it fits a style associated with certain beer styles. it should be the first clue to what people can expect from the beer.”

Artist Jesse Richards


How do you work with the illustrator / designer etc? “I sit down with the artist and explain what the beer style is and what it’s going to taste like and I normally leave it at that. Sometimes there’s a little more reference as with Holler, but with things like Deep Dark by Jez Dobson or Tropi (below) with Darren John it’s 100% their idea, Actually in Darren’s case it made me think, OK I better put more pineapple in now he’s painted the label with one so sometimes the art can change the beers!”

Who else’s design do you admire? “There are so many for different reasons but if i had to pick 3:
The Kernel – I love everything about that brewery, the simplicity and balance and nuance of the beers they make are incredible and I think their branding reflects that too. I’ve never spoken to Evin about

Who else’s design do you admire? “There are so many for different reasons but if i had to pick 3:
The Kernel – I love everything about that brewery, the simplicity and balance and nuance of the beers they make are incredible and I think their branding reflects that too. I’ve never spoken to Evin about that but I wonder if they put much thought into it or it was just something that happened [You really should read Beer By Design, Mark]. Either way I think it reflects the ethos of the brewery perfectly.
Left Handed Giant –  I think the artistic director there is incredible. I know Bruce very well from our time at Brewdog and he has an eye for finding talent and giving them freedom to develop. They have a uniformed style across all the beer but also an incredible collection of art. It’s something that’s very hard to do well and they have smashed it.
Beavertown – same concept as LHG but a bit ahead of the game. I know Logan and Nick pretty well from the early days and I love how organically it came together, Nick just working the restaurant and doing a random design and now he’s artistic director of a huge brand and probably the most recognised artist in the beer world. Beavertown was always destined to be pretty cool but Nick’s artwork took the brand to the next level and gave it an identity that made it instantly stand out.”

Apart from your own beers, whose are you currently enjoying? “There are a lot of good beers around at the moment. I’ve been particularly enjoying Deya. A lot of the big murky hop bombs lack balance and drinkability but these guys do it the best I think. The Hackney Brewery beers have been great recently and they are moving round the corner so looking forward to drinking more of those. I also had a Newbarns pilsner with callista dry hop the other day and it was a thing of beauty, well balanced crisp and refreshing and all just slightly elevated by the use of a subtle dry hop. Top work.”

A thing of beauty indeed.

What’s your most listened-to album of 2020? “I’ve got 2 young kids so Spotify tells me it’s Ugly Dolls and The Greatest Showman. I’ve been revisiting albums and listening to classics from track one all the way through: Led Zeppelin 3, Television Marquee Moon & NWA Straight Outta Compton have been great to revisit and all stand the test of time.”

Reading / watching anything interesting? “Honestly my reading is super dull. My mrs caught me reading about the chemical composition of field maple trees the other day.  I’m a bit of a geek and like to research A LOT. Watching wise i’ve seen some good stuff recently, watched Parks and Recreation for the first time, it’s great. The Watchmen and The Boys have been highlights of the year and The Dead Don’t Lie was my favourite movie. Zombies and Bill Murray: what else do you need?”

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “Everything haha. Looking forward to going to the pub like everyone else. I really just want to have a whole day in Newcastle drinking in the Free Trade Inn with all my Geordie mates. That pub is my spiritual home. I also really want to go to a footy match. I’m a Rangers fan and we won our first title in 10 years so it would be good to get back to a packed Ibrox for a champions league match in 2021. Oh and having a brewery that can sell beer to pubs, that would be a real upgrade on 2020.”

The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle.

Cats or dogs? “Well I’ve always been a dog guy, but we’ve adopted a stray cat in the last few years and he’s pretty great. He’s called Len and he’s kind of swaying me to cats. The kids want a puppy though and keep telling Len when he dies he’s getting replaced by a dog, which seems a bit out of order. so….Cats.

Long live Len. He deserves a Dreamie.

To find out more about Exale, please check out their website, and on socials:

Brewery and Taproom on Twitter

Exale on Insta.

And here’s to visiting taprooms and pubs across the UK from Monday! Chin chin, chaps!

Featured Artist: Kev Grey, Black Iris

One of the greatest joys of researching for Beer by Design was one half of us (Liz) discovering new breweries and beer brands that the other half (Pete) knew about but had kept to himself. Black Iris was a zinger of a discovery – a cacophony of black & white illustration packed with character and attitude. Kev Grey tells his story…

So Kev, what’s your design background? “I wanted to be an artist since the early 1990s when I discovered underground comic books, skateboard graphics and graffiti as all of these things made me feel that art was exciting, fun and contemporary. In 1995 I attended my local art college for a few years then was accepted in a fine art course at Sheffield Hallam University during which time I continued drawing, making fanzines and painting graffiti. With thanks to the punk rock/underground music I grew up listening to I have always naturally had a D.I.Y attitude and approach to my work so in the early (pre-social media) days of my art making I was always actively getting my work out into the world as much as possible through exhibitions, making zines and travelling to other cities to meet like-minded people. In the very early 2000s I began getting artwork commissions and the ball has just kept rolling ever since.

Besides Black Iris some of the more notable commissions I’ve worked on have been designing skateboard graphics for East Skateboards and Lost Art in Liverpool and travelling around Europe and Hong Kong with the shoe brand Vans to customise shoes for them at live events. I also designed the signature Schecter Guitar for Porl Thompson of The Cure back in 2005. I’ve also designed lots of other stuff like gig posters, album covers, t-shirts and jewellery and run my own publishing company Gamblers Grin since 2008 through which I release books and zines of my work. 

What are your influences? “In my early teenage years I was really taken with the comics of Robert Crumb, Evan Dorkin, Dom Morris, Al Feldstein and The Gurch, as well as the skateboard art of Jim Phillips, VCJ and Marc McKee. I was also really inspired by the traditional tattoo flash I saw on some of my family members who had collected tattoos during their time in the navy (the majority of the tattoos on my arms are copies of what my grandad had on his arms). All these early influences are what I initially blended together and gave me the idea to start drawing black and white, comic book style tattoo inspired imagery. Although I’ve progressed and broadened my influences since then these early influences are the foundation of what I do and are still very relevant to me today. “

Tell us about your work with Black Iris. “It was about 7 years ago when I first met with Alex from Black Iris at which time they were making the transition from brewing out of the back room of their local pub to opening up their own brewery. From what I remember he basically asked me to design them a new logo and a couple of pump clips, one of which being the still popular Snake Eyes. Alex was already familiar with my work as even though we didn’t know each other he lived in Sheffield the same time I did and we moved in the same circles, so luckily for me when him and Nick were making plans for Black Iris my work came to mind. Jump forward to now and we’ve worked on a ton of great keg, cask and can designs as well and merchandise and other bits. It’s a great job to have as the beer concepts are always fun and different enough to keep it fresh and exciting.”

Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “I don’t really have one favourite beer design but I do pay attention to artists/designers who are producing work for other breweries and think it’s amazing to see such a variety of impressive, different styles adorning beer cans. I will say that some of my lifelong favourite beer designs are the classics like Tetley’s huntsman or the old Skol logo when they replaced the O with Jim Bowen’s face. Stuff like that to me is very nostalgic and timeless and reminds me of how exciting it was when I first started going to pubs.”

When you knock off on a Friday, what’s your go to beer? “My favourite Friday evening drink is Red Stripe washed down with Mexican food or Jerk Chicken.” 

Favourite bar? “In all honesty I haven’t been a regular pub-goer for quite a few years so I haven’t really got a favourite or local now but ever since I was a teenager I’ve always preferred old man pubs that are rich in history. A few favourites over the years in my home city of Liverpool have been The Swan, Ye Hole In Ye Wall, The Globe, The Old Post Office, Roscoe Head and Ye Cracke.”

Favourite bar snack? “Dry roasted peanuts.”

What have you been listening to recently? “One of the perks of spending a lot of time in my studio is I’m able to listen to a lot of music. Some of my recent favourites are Gillian Welch, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, FEAR, Butthole Surfers, Hank 3, Social Distortion, Mojo Nixon, Wovenhand and Primus to name a few. My regular podcasts are The Last Podcast on the Left, The Patdown with Ms Pat and The Nine Club.” 

Reading / watching anything interesting? “I’m halfway through a book titled Behold The Protong about the polish sculptor/artist Stanisław Szukalski’s theory of human development which is crazy but fascinating. I’m also currently reading the new issue of Dark Side (my favourite magazine) which keeps me up to date with all things Horror. As for TV I enjoyed Netflix’s The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel plus my wife and I are currently rewatching the complete X Files series which is just as good as I remember from when it was first released.” 

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “I’ve been quite lucky with everything that’s gone on in the world since last year in that lockdowns and restrictions haven’t changed my life too drastically and I’ve still been able to work as normal, but that said as a parent I am looking forward to next week when the schools open again and my two kids can go see their friends and get back to a normal school life. Personally I’m just looking forward to the weather improving so I can go skateboarding more and basically just working hard and enjoying what I do for a living. I’ll also hopefully get to go to a few gigs later this year. I have really missed live music.”

Cats or dogs? “100% I’m a cat man. Over the past few years I’d say about 80% of my artwork has been created with my cat Ivy asleep on my lap while I’m drawing or asleep on the chair next to me. My wife bought me a great book titled Of Cats and Men: Profiles of Histories Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers and Statesmen which I’d highly recommend.”

Thanks Kev (and Ivy).

To choose some brilliantly designed Black Iris beers, click HERE.
Follow Kev and Black Iris on Instagram and buy some of his art as prints HERE.

Featured brewery: Canopy Brew Co.

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.

To buy some Canopy beers, click here.

To follow Canopy on social:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Featured brewer: Jane Frances le Blond, Mothership

A few decades ago, you couldn’t move for scantily clad women adorning pumpclips and bottles, yet today there’s – probably unsurprisingly – very little female imagery featured in beer design. Then we found Mothership, who’ve subverted old sexist tropes by featuring incredible, powerful, game-changing women in their branding. This is a brewery with inclusivity right at its heart. We caught up with founder Jane Frances le Blond to find out more.

What’s the story behind your design?: “Our overall design ethos is to be inclusive. We aim not to alienate anyone with our designs but to delight as broad an audience as possible. Our special “Extraordinary Women” series – featuring illustrations of women who have led inspirational lives – aims to be eye-catching and educational, introducing people to these women and telling them about their lives.

Talk us through the women featured on the specials range: “The women we choose to feature are women who are not hugely well known, but have done amazing things with their life. The aim is to give them a bit of exposure and share a story that might not otherwise be shared. We’ve shared/have plans to share the lives and achievements of women of a wide range of ages and races, we have women from a range of sexualities and women who have lived with disabilities. This is an ongoing series and diversity is the priority for us. Codebreaker, for example, our New England Double IPA is dedicated to Joan Clarke, a little known cryptanalyst whose work in WW2 in cracking the Enigma Code saved countless lives. Seeds of Hope, our peach pale ale, featured Wangari Maathai, the first female African Nobel Peace Prize winner, environmental and women’s rights activist and founder of the Green Belt Movement which has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya.” 

How do you work with the illustrator / designer etc?
“I do all the design for Mothership, as my background is in branding and design. We work with two illustrators – all core range can illustrations are by Atelier Bingo (https://atelier-bingo.fr), an amazing French illustration duo, and our “Extraordinary Women” illustrations are by the amazing Erin Aniker (https://www.erinaniker.com/About-Contact) who is a hugely inspirational illustrator who does lots of work for women and minority ethnic groups.” 

Who else’s design do you admire? “As a designer, one of the things that enhances my experience of drinking beer is beer can design. A bit like records and record sleeves, I enjoy drinking a beer and looking at the can design. I love the illustrations on the Wild Card cans, they’re beautiful, surreal and they draw you in, I can get really lost in them (the beer is outstanding too). I also think Duration do a great job with their cans, their photography is really nice too, and they do some brilliant promo videos – there was one recently where they really brought the can to life by animating a flare in the design (https://fb.watch/3IFH76sse-/). I also really love the Canopy designs – they’re such fun, as beer should be!”

Apart from your own beers, whose are you currently enjoying? “I have my hands pretty full with 3 children aged five and under in lockdown and so perusing beers is fairly low down on my priority list. Instead, I subscribe to the fantastic Hop Burns & Black Sub Club who I trust to send me a case of the best beers of the month each month. Last month’s highlight was definitely a Drop Project West Coast IPA.”

What’s your most listened-to album of 2020?
“I think I listened to more playlists and podcasts in 2020 than albums. Currently enjoying the Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett Lockdown Parenting Podcast. 6 Music is almost always on in our house, and if it’s not that it’s a Hey Duggee song or something like that!”

Reading / watching anything interesting? “Things I’ve enjoyed recently are The Queen’s Gambit, Industry, currently watching Back on All4, enjoying the new series of First Dates (shhhh!). Mostly easy watching stuff as life is pretty hard, I don’t need to be challenged by TV too! Roll on the new series of Gogglebox starting soon! Currently reading The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey which I’m really enjoying – a very surreal story of a mermaid caught on a Caribbean island who turns back to a woman from the past when brought onto land, all written beautifully in a gentle rolling Caribbean dialect.” 

What are you looking forward to in 2021?: “Getting my children back to school/nursery. Having a moment to myself. Going somewhere that is not my immediate vicinity. Seeing my wider family. Not feeling totally overwhelmed by all aspects of my life. One or some of the above would be nice!”

Cats or dogs? “I have 2 cats so I’d have to say cats but I do also like dogs if that’s allowed…?!” 

Oh go on then. Just this once.

To find out more about Mothership please check them out here:

Webshop: https://www.mothership.beer/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mothership_beer

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mothership.beer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mothership.beer/

Featured artist: Szabotage, Gweilo

Featuring our first design (not the last) who didn’t make it into the book, we were intrigued by the story of a new brand, Gweilo, who are launching into the UK as we write. They commissioned Hong Kong-based Szabotage (Gustav Szabo), whose reputation as a street artist has seen him work alongside global brands as well as branch out to giving TED talks and holding sold-out exhibitions of his art. Obviously, we wanted to know more…

So what’s your design background? “I grew up in Brighton and Hove, and moved to London to study architecture.  I then went on to work as a designer, with great names such as Philippe Starck and Steve Leung.  Whilst in the UK I had a few shows and some success as an artist but it wasn’t until I moved to Hong Kong in 2013 that I was able to become really involved with the art scene. 

I’m now a full time artist and have exhibited internationally, with sold out exhibitions, solo shows, and numerous collaborative projects, private and commercial commissions, including Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ritz Carlton, Jaeger Lecoultre and Evisu.

What are your influences as an artist / designer? “Although I’m born and bred in the UK, Hong Kong has been my home for the past few years, and I’m greatly influenced by the city and its culture. The artistic heritage of Hong Kong is everywhere and bears its own traditions, intersection and contradictions.  The blending of Chinese and Western cultures – forming the city’s unique diverse temperament and cultural landscape – has formed and heavily influenced my art.  My work has absorbed local and international complexities and the various dualities influences my art whiles retaining its own edge.

I gather visual references, sketch and recreate something that is typically ‘Hong Kong’ and turn them into stencils.  These icons are then spray painted in layers which creates a story or journey for the viewer.”

Tell us about your work with Gweilo. “The project was all about telling the Gweilo story, which actually shared a lot of similairties to my own journey in Hong Kong. I related to their historic moments and really enjoyed the imagery that it conjured up. I used my style of layering over 50 intricate hand cut stencils to create the final artwork over three canvases. 

Another great thing that came out of the whole project was becoming mates, we share a lot of passions including all being total car nuts (see picture of my Renault Clio V6 below). There was a lot time spent together and it was a collaboration, working together and having some great banter.

Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “Craft beer seems to have brought out unique and bold artistic design – there are some amazing ones out there.  I really like the Broaden & Build Jaunty Amarillo IPA which has a street art graffiti text in old Skool style. 

When you knock off on a Friday (or whenever), what’s your go to beer? “Would it be too obvious to say Gweilo? I love their Session IPA – open a couple of those and boom it’s the weekend!”

What’s your favourite bar? “I’m always drawn to a bar with a great view.  New York is amazing for their rooftop bars – the Hudson Bar at the Hudson Hotel was very memorable .  The Groucho Bar in London or Soho House in Berlin are also top of the list.  I do miss a good British pub for a Sunday roast, pint and a log fire.  Here in Hong Kong I love hanging in Wagyu on Wyndham street, Central.  It was a great after work spot that spilled out onto the street.”

Favourite bar snack? “You can’t go wrong with fries or some cheese and onion crisps.”

What have you been listening to recently?One World Radio Daybreak sessions or Coccolino Deep. Got to love the rave!”

Are you reading / watching anything interesting? “When I have time to watch anything it’s usually car vloggers or parkour videos on YouTube.”

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “I’m really looking forward to the return of spontaneity.  Hopefully we get to see family and friends in the UK that we’ve been apart from for far too long due to the pandemic.”

Cats or dogs? “Cats. As for dogs? Well I have two small kids and that’s hard enough.”

Cheers to that!

To find out more about Gweilo beers, click here and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Szabotage can be found at:

https://www.instagram.com/szabotage.me/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/szabotage.me/

https://www.szabotage.com.hk/

Featured brand: Harvey’s. We wunt be druv.

We didn’t need the Anchor rebranding fiasco to tell us what we already knew. Rebranding a beloved beer brand is much tougher than setting up a brewery and creating a brand from scratch. When even your current yeast is older than Beavertown, Brewdog, Camden Town and a few more of the bigger players put together, you have to dig deep to ensure that the next generation of drinkers find you relevant. Harvey’s, founded in 1790, was brewing nothing but cask when it embarked on a rebrand that gave the much-loved yet slightly dusty brand a huge shot in the arm. We asked sales & marketing manager Bob Trimm to talk us through their approach. Given Anchor’s abject lesson last week in how to screw up a re-design, we might give them his number.

What was the Harvey’s brand like before the rebrand? “We had a number of issues with the brand architecture, for one thing. Different parts of the business had ‘had a go’ over the years so we had about 5 versions of the logo, some introduced in the 50s, some in the 70s and some in the 90s.

Our Lewes Castle Brown Ale, for example, had won 2 world medals but didn’t even have the Harvey’s name on the bottle. Several of our products had different imagery between the same product in cask and bottle.

“And although we’ve always seen ourselves as a premium product, it wasn’t reflected in our design. Also, to be brutally honest, we had a strong following and staunch fans but we were seen as old fashioned amongst younger drinkers. People who didn’t know us well assumed that the sepia illustration of the brewery in our logo was how the brewery looked in 1790 and was now a museum rather than the actual brewery.”

So what was the brief? “To introduce a singular company logo and a brand hierarchy that could underpin the evolution of the brewery and the product range, and to emphasise the provenance, heritage and quality of our beers and our business. We initially approached 8 agencies – 4 turned up to the meeting with redesigned logos so we knew they weren’t the ones for us. Two agencies wanted to turn us into Beavertown which would have been a disaster. We finally selected WPA Pinfold as their collaborative approach and the thorough, strategic process felt appropriate for the task in hand.”

What was the rebrand process like? “We wanted as many people as possible to be involved in the redesign – there’s nothing worse than unveiling a new look only for people to hate it. A group of 10 directors, marketing, sales, retail, brewing and pub estate people were involved, We had fascinating discussions about what the Harvey’s brand meant to them – we brainstormed, had creative sessions and really opened up discussions, Only then did the agency start work on the concept. They came back with 4 design routes, none of which we’d have rejected out of hand. We decided on one route for the core range, with elements of another that allowed some flexibility for our seasonal beers and the introduction of our can and keg range.

“For the seasonal range, we actually had a draw-off between a Leeds-based artist that the agency suggested, and a local artist (Malcolm Trollope-Davis) who was born and bred in Sussex. They did 5 designs each for our seasonal beers, and as soon as we saw them, we all agreed that the local artist had just captured something about the area that was right for us. The designs went straight from the sketchbook to the pumpclips.. For the cans, we commissioned an abstract painting from local artist Susan Lynch and used elements of that across the range.”

What’s been the payback from the rebrand? “Now we’re in cans and bottles, with a contemporary design that conveys our heritage and the quality of the product, we’re opening up new markets. We have keg and cans on all P&O cruises (when they get going again), in restaurants, we’re pouring on the British Airways i360 and more locally, we got tremendous feedback at Brighton & Hove Albion when as well as our cask ales, fans could see walls of our beer, from stout to IPA.

We’re intrigued by “We wunt be druv”! “It’s the unofficial county motto of Sussex and means ‘We will not be driven’ – reflecting the independence, spirit and pride that’s at the heart of everything. It reflects a stubbornness and strength that we aspire to, particularly in regard to our independence. Harvey’s is currently run by the seventh generation of the family, with two members of the eighth generation working here, the ethos being that they are custodians of the business which they hold in perpetuity for future generations. You might see other brewers our size succumbing to takeovers, but Harvey’s will remain a family business.”

A couple of questions we’ve asked everyone else. Your own design aside, who do you admire? “Chiltern Brewery. You can go into a pub on a busy Friday night, look at 6 handpulls and have no idea what sort of beers they are. Chiltern has created a very clever design that makes everything evident, down to the colour of the beer.”

Apart from Harvey’s, what’s your Friday evening tipple? “I’m a traditionalist and a lover of stouts. My current favourites are Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire, Wiper & True and Bristol Beer Factory.

What have you been listening to during lockdown?Jack Savoretti and I’ve been dipping back into Human League too.”

Reading anything interesting? “I’m half way through Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle – it’s my first Follett and I’m enjoying it.”

Cats or dogs? “I’d better say cats as I’ve got one.”

Indeed Bob, you better had. Tiger by name, tiger by nature.

For more information please check out:

https://www.harveys.org.uk/

WPA Pinfold

Featured designer: Tom Moore, New Bristol Brewery.

We love a gorilla in a spacesuit as much as the next person, so when we saw the New Bristol Brewery range of beer cans we inevitably wanted to know more. Freelance designer – and gorilla-wrangler – Tom Moore talks about some of his design influences and how he’s helped the brewery’s founders Maria and Noel James extend the famous Alfred’s journeys to bring the brand to life.

Hi Tom, first things first – what’s your background as a designer? “I have studied art & design since secondary school, specialising in theatre design at university. Since then I have worked as a freelancer alongside artworking or assisting for various art, design and print companies near to Bristol. 

What are your design influences? “I’m influenced by so much that I see around me. Instagram has been a huge part of that in recent times as well. Mainly, I’m attracted to bold colours, strong contrast and good composition. You can find great examples of that in the beer world with the likes of Drop Project, Masquerade Brewing, Unbarred Brewery etc… but also with amazing artists like Sean Lenn, Muskerton, Helyn Gulley, APOLAR and Micah Ulrich (to name a few). Music, film and nature also inspire me a lot and feed back into my artwork.” 

Can you fill us in on the gorilla on the cans before we go any further? “Well, Alfred was the very famous gorilla who was a resident at Bristol Zoo until his death after WWII and he remains a mascot of Bristol. New Bristol Brewery have taken them as their mascot in their own right, and it was Maria and Noel’s vision to send him to different locations on the beer cans. It’s been fun to get to know his character a little bit through designing; he can be a bit grumpy and prefers his solitary time I think. It’s been great to flesh out this character, with multiple dimensions… doing the details on his space suit was a designer’s dream! I’ve just done his “house” too, so that should be cool to see the reception to that.” 

Tell us a bit about your work for New Bristol Brewery. “I knew Noel and Maria a bit from when I worked at another local Bristol brewery, but we’ve really grown a lot closer through working on these cans together. I love them, they’re really great people with kind hearts and the passion and drive to make fantastic beers. I applied for the job via a Facebook ad they put out in late Spring 2020. The application included 4 designs, 2 of which got through to being actual labels. It’s like Alfred (the gorilla) is a sort of Mr Benn… visiting all these different worlds and places on his many adventures. The design process is fun, with Maria coming up with the ideas and me making them a reality. She has a great vision of what she wants for each beer can, and we share a lot of ideas and inspiration imagery before I start working on a new label. It’s been one of the most detailed and involved artistic projects I have ever been a part of and I’m really proud of the cans as a body of work. The best part is that I don’t have to pretend to like the beers, as they are all delicious!”

Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “I really love Buxton Brewery‘s style. They’re striking, clear and distinctly Buxton. I like that they do these little series of beers which all share a design style. My favourites are probably King Slayer and King Maker – I love the colours and textures.” 

Apart from New Bristol, who’s your favourite brewery and why?Unity Brewery from Southampton. I’ve tried loads of their beers and never found one I don’t like. Great artwork too from Matt Canning.”

Favourite pub or bar? “It’s been a while since I’ve been to a pub or bar!!! Beer Emporium on King Street, Bristol is one of my favourites. An iconic part of the city for beer drinking, otherwise for a nice quiet country pint I’d choose The White Hart in Iron Acton, or the White Horse in Compton Bassett – I’m a country boy at heart.”

Favourite bar snack? “Dry roasted or chilli-coated peanuts.” 

What music are you currently listening to? “Loads of different stuff – lots that’s new for me. I’ve just got into James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds podcast and I’ve been picking up loads of recommendations from there. A few recent favs include Royal Swan by Phoxjaw, Prime by Arcing Wires and Everything Else Has Gone Wrong by Bombay Bicycle Club.

Are you reading anything interesting? “I’ve been listening to the Arc of a Scythe series of audiobooks by Neal Shusterman, while I’ve been designing. It is set in the far future, where death by natural causes has been virtually eliminated thanks to advances in technology, and an advanced computer system known as the “Thunderhead” controls society. The Thunderhead is a form of artificial intelligence who does not make mistakes or have regrets. However, the Thunderhead can communicate with others. The Scythedom is an organization separate from the Thunderhead tasked with deciding who must die, as overpopulation has remained a problem.”

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “More adventures with Alfred and New Bristol Brewery and some other projects I have been working on should be coming to fruition this year so I’m looking forward to seeing how they are received and how they grow and develop. Of course, I’m hoping for life to get a bit easier as regards the pandemic and I hope my family, friends and loved ones continue to be healthy and safe.”

Cats or dogs? “Dogs. Obviously!”

Obviously. Thanks, Tom!

Please follow Tom on Instagram @tommooredesign or connect with him via Facebook @tommooredesign.

Also please follow @newbristolbrewery on social and sample some of their delicious beers from their webshop.

Featured brewer: Dave Stone, Wylam Brewery

Dave Stone, head honcho at Wylam Brewery has lots of opinions, many of which we agree with (see above). For him, beer was a logical move from his previous career in the music industry, but once you’ve got music in your bones, there’s no getting away from it. As part of the research for Beer by Design, we asked for the story behind Searching For The Joys Again and he sent a YouTube link to a track by Shack (see below) and said ‘The lead singer was a massive smack head and it’s a song about searching for heroin on the streets of Kensington. The artwork depicts how people often bury their heads rather than seek joy.’ Which was so brilliant, we wanted to know more.  

Dave, music is integral to everything you brew. Can you explain? “Music certainly weaves a very important thread through our beers. Our head brewer Ben was in bands and put gigs on previously and I also came from music into beer. I used to put on festivals and co-owned a couple of nightclubs. Over a decade or so ago it became apparent that the internet was breaking the route to market for music. I have no problem with the technology in principle but unfortunately thanks to peer-to-peer sites such as Limewire and the like people were simply stealing music and in the process it was being devalued. So myself and my business partner had a wild night on the piss one night and thought about what we could do moving forward that we loved equally as much as music. Several pints in we managed to work out you can’t download beer from the internet and the rest as they say is history.”

How does this translate to the design of the cans? “It’s certainly an big influence, alongside what’s happening in the world… which is all a bit nuts at the moment isn’t it! A beer name like Searching For The Joys Again is inspired by the band Shack whereby Sleepwalking Into Dystopia is inspired by the current state of affairs. Tallboy cans are wonderful image carriers, there is space to express our ethos on the label alongside the liquid that is inside the can.”

What’s your overall design ethos? “We have some core brand guidelines which we predominantly stick to. The centre bar with the beer name and logo on is important. In a good independent beer shop these days the fridges are amass with bold, beautiful, vibrant designs and for us the centre bar is an important constant that identifies the beer as a Wylam Beer. Design is of course a mode of persuasion that attracts the potential purchaser and our design ethos is centred around the personality of the beer and the folk that brew it. We work closely with Sally Linsdell who is what would be referred to these days as a ‘digital nomad’. She’s from here in the North East but lives in Bali where she runs Real Eyes her design agency. There is a definite benefit to the fact that she’s so disconnected from the goings on here plus it’s not too shabby when I have to go to her office for a meeting.”

Any particular favourites? “Ah that’s a bit like asking me which of my children is my favourite (the answer to that by the way is neither as I prefer my dog hahaha). I couldn’t really pick one design out as it’s ever evolving. For me the real joy is in the finessing, where you start with an idea and a rough directional and then coax it on till the final proof marries up to what you had in your mind’s eye. Also, due to the fact that the modern beer drinker rarely wants to try the same beer twice (which for me is one of the biggest negatives in beer currently) we are releasing at least three never-to-be-repeated beers and corresponding designs a month so it’s the body of work that becomes favourite rather than each individual design.”

Apart from your own beers, whose are you currently enjoying? “For hop forward stuff the holy trinity of Deya, Verdant and Cloudwater always make their mark. The Kernel do things right on every level and there is a beautiful honesty to their beers. Burning Sky are true masters of their craft and never disappoint however it feels a bit unfair to just mention these breweries. Let’s face it there are so many brilliant UK independents out there right now that I could go on all day listing them. I feel that whilst the initial wave of excitement around modern beer may have peaked the standards in British Independent brewing is still going up. It’s a good time to drink beer regardless of all this pandemic bollocks.”

What’s your most listened-to album of 2020? “I think it’s a dead heat between ‘Untitled (Black Is)’ by Sault and ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ by Bob Dylan. Sault [Guardian review here by Alexis Petridis] are a must listen for those who haven’t found them yet and the new Dylan album is, in my opinion, the best thing he’s done for decades.”

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “That’s the simplest question to answer that you’ve asked me so far and can be answered in just two words… The Pub.”

We’re with you there. Cheers Dave.

Featured Designer: Harry Archer, Solvay Society

Solvay Society featured in the ‘typography’ section of Beer by Design because of the clever way the name of the beer uses a different typeface to suggest the character and personality of the beer inside. But there’s a lot more to the design story than that. We caught up with freelance designer Harry Archer to find out more.

So, Harry, where did you train? I studied art, design and media at 6th form college in Eastleigh then applied to do graphic design at Kingston University, much to the disappointment of my dad, who wanted me to accept my place at Central Saint Martin’s simply because it was mentioned in Common People by Pulp. Kingston was a super eye opening experience; there is a reason it’s the best in the country. Chatting to my college peers who ventured elsewhere, their courses lacked a lot of interest. Every day was a day full of random thoughts, interesting development and chatting about all things design. The first year was focused around idea generation, I ended my first week in front of my whole course in my boxers with my hands tied together (don’t ask). The second year was more commercial thinking about design and applying it correctly. Final year was bringing the lessons you learnt from the previous years, actively merging them together to have super exciting outcomes that communicated your idea succinctly. The course was very independent but the studio culture of working in a creative space was probably the most beneficial part. Bouncing ideas off of friends and watching people just do stuff was essential to growing as a graphic designer.

What are your design influences?
I have always had an interest in subtle design elements that have a real meaning behind why, the ‘why’ does need to be important. I spend quite a long time just asking myself ‘Why have I done this?’. One of my first influences was visual and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, After seeing this type of design work I began to rein it in slightly; things can look awesome for the sake of being awesome. Other than that I am always finding more and more influences to my design practice through the endless scrolling on Instagram, I have discovered some really neat new studios who are killing it right now, like ilovedust, Studio Yukiko and Studio Blackburn

Tell us about your work for Solvay Society. “I remember when Roman (Founder/head-brewer of Solvay Society) first got in touch about doing the re-brand. Up to that point I was just designing what they were after and it lacked consistency. It was quite daunting to begin, I looked into what others were doing which drew me to the use of pattern, It was quite a common thing to see these so I wanted to do something that was different but the same. We came up with ‘The 3 Faces’ that make Solvay Society cans so recognisable. The first face, the archway, has a sense of welcome with the name and type of the beer and a colour trim down the sides. The second face is the blurb section which is so prominent because Roman has such a strong reason for his choice of ingredients, the purpose of the beer and the process and I felt it was important for people to be able to read about it in detail. The third face is a pattern that sticks to the colour palette and reflects the beer name or purpose. For example, 8:20 features the striking rays of the sun, as it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the sunlight to travel the darkness of space and illuminate the Earth’s surface.

The minimal colour palette was also important. The design is mono and the variety comes from the striking colours that appear on about less than 10% of the design. Having black cans was a key design decision.

It has always been a top tier list for me to work with a beer brand, but one I could say I have made my stamp on. Amazingly to this day I am yet to meet Roman face to face, but he’s been very happy with the work that we have done to bring Solvay Society into the more modern market of craft beer, so that makes me super happy. Working remotely you would think it would have a hindrance, but 2020 proved it certainly can be the new new.

Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “I am adoring the story behind the Overtone brewing cans, the love of music and beer. I also love me a bit of techno and merging the worlds from two together to create a stand out branding is pretty sick.”

Apart from Solvay Society, who’s your favourite brewery and why? “I have had a huge love for Camden Town Brewery since I got an opportunity to visit their factory on a ‘staff training’ day, learning about the process which ultimately inspired one of my final year university projects. They have such beautiful branding and everything they do is just brilliant. I even collect their exclusive cans because that’s how large an impact they have had on me. Just need to figure out a better way to display them.”

Harry’s desk and Camden specials collection.

Favourite pub or bar? “Local bar to me called Belgium and Blues, killer night out, whilst trying some of the nicest beers Southampton has to offer, not to mention the bitterballen.”

Favourite bar snack? “No competition. Snyder’s Jalapeño pretzel pieces.”

What music are you currently listening to? “A bit of alternative indie rock, The Cribs new one is pretty good and Glass Animals. Also been listening to songs from Tarantino films, just because it’s so iconic.”

Are you reading anything interesting? “I received a book about street food recently; if there’s another interest I have other than design work, it’s street food. The other book is Accidentally Wes Anderson, the book born from the Instagram page of the same name.”

What are you looking forward to in 2021? “I am mostly looking forward to progress of normality, not visited any galleries or exhibitions in what feels like forever. I also have tickets to The Book of Mormon which I have been desperate to see on stage. Exciting new design projects in the pipeline are also well up there.”

Cats or dogs? “Cats by far. My love of mine has been immortalised on a cup. Solid Christmas present from my other half.”

Aw, cute.

Nice one, Harry.

harrypdarcher@gmail.com
https://www.harryarcher.co.uk/work
https://www.instagram.com/_harryarcher/

To find out more about Solvay Society please check them out at https://www.solvaysociety.com/