His name’s Alan but we call him Ed.

Editors absorb a lot of the stress that’s created by writing a book. Authors crashing into deadlines, designers careering into even worse deadlines, a budget spreadsheet that has to keep everyone happy and, this year, the impact of Covid-19 on all that. Alan Murphy, the editor who wrangled Beer By Design from a germ of an idea to the bitter (you’re welcome) end, was Project Ed. We salute him.

Describe your role at CAMRA Books: “My role is a combined one of Commissioning Editor and Managing Editor. I submit book proposals to a Publishing Advisory Group for consideration and (hopefully) approval. I then work out a budget and schedule with the author and draw up a contract for them to sign. Once the author completes the book, I work with our editorial and production team to put the book together before sending it to the printer. “

What did you enjoy about the Beer By Design book in particular?: “So many things but working with someone like Pete, who is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the subject, was a real honour.”

What role do you think design has in the beer world? “A vital one. As Pete says in the introduction, a beer has to be noticed before the customer chooses it amidst a sea of competition, and that’s where the design of label, can or pump clip comes in.”

Was there anything that surprised you about the Beer by Design book? “I think what surprised me most was just how much we are influenced by design; even the angle of a letter in a name can alter our mood.”

Burning Sky artwork by Simon Gane

While all the designs are obviously your favourite, were there any personal stand outs? “Very difficult, but I’d have to say Burning Sky for the atmosphere they evoke.”

What’s going to be your festive tipple this Christmas? “I’ve got some bottles of Arkell’s Sir Noel Christmas Ale and Adnams Tally-Ho. I’ll also be supporting my local brewery, The Nook, with some of their fine beers such as Maple Porter and Oat Stout.”

When you’re not working on books, where can we find you? “I spend most of my spare time walking our dog, watching my son play football at the weekend, or teaching my daughter to drive. For relaxation I love to cook, so you’ll often find me in the kitchen (though not at parties).”

Beer, design & music are our jam. What have you been listening to recently?
“I’ve been listening to a lot of mellower, more contemplative music this year. A lot of stuff like Bill Callahan, Beach House, Jenny Lewis, as well as old favourites like Elvis Costello and David Byrne.”

And when you’re not commissioning and editing books, what do you read? “I read a lot of fiction, American writers like Richard Ford and Cormac McCarthy, as well as William Boyd and Jonathan Coe. I’ve been reading more and more crime fiction and was recently recommended the series of Bernie Gunther detective thrillers by beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones.”

Oh Yes It Is.

All the fun of the panto without having to change out of your pyjamas. Result.

Let’s face it, this is a specific season to be very fucking jolly. No-one is having Christmas as usual but it doesn’t mean we can’t have a thoroughly enjoyable one, albeit with Zoom providing more of the festivities than Aunty Gladys after she’s been at the sherry.

We’ll be featuring some Christmas specials – beers, deals and more – in the next couple of weeks but the Panto in a Box by Brewgooder caught our attention not just with superb design but the story behind it.

It features 4 beers: Bawrus was brewed by Brewgooder and Pact Coffee, Mother Gose is from Wild Beer Co, Jack is from Mondo Brewing and Daisy the Coo from Gipsy Hill, plus some chocolate, popcorn and a specially-commissioned panto story by renowned panto writer and star Johnny McKnight.

We caught up with Abby, who’s in charge of special projects & campaign research at Brewgooder, to ask her about the project:

Is this the first charity project you’ve done?

“As a purpose driven brand, our mission has always been to use beer to positively impact the lives of others and lend our platform to people that need support. The core way we do this is with clean water, which we believe is the most people-empowering resource on the planet, so our drinkers have already helped to unlock millions of litres of water for communities around the world. But this mission has also translated to other forms of people positive impact be it across areas such as inclusion and compassion – for instance, during lockdown we ran a national campaign to gift over 28,000 beers with messages of support to NHS staff, which we were really proud of.” 

How and why did you choose this issue to focus on?

“We’d been thinking for a while of what to do for Christmas when James, our co-founder and Head of Brand came across a newspaper article highlighting the impact of Covid-19 on Panto Season, alongside the thousands of freelance creatives and performers who have been out of work and struggling to receive any form of support from the Government.

As soon as he pitched the idea to the rest of us, we were sold.”

How did the design concept come together? 

“We knew we wanted a traditional panto feel and worked with illustrator Jamie Macdonald (aka Airship23) to bring the characters to life. Wild Beer felt very strongly about their dame having a pineapple hat, so we made sure to incorporate that!

Once we had our characters, we worked with our regular illustrator Jez Dunn (Happy Place Studio) to finalise the can labels. We were torn between having either the characters in black and white, or the backgrounds black and white with the characters in colour. We opted for the former, as we felt the black and white characters helped to convey the traditional feel.

For the box, we had been inspired by Tiny’s Rebel’s birthday box design and reached out to Boxmart to see what they could do for us. They came up with the brilliant “stage” design for the box, that allows the “curtain” to rise and reveal the beers. The box also has a clever insert on top that both keeps the beers more secure and also allows for the popcorn and chocolate to be secure. Jez also did the artwork for the box, doing a brilliant job capturing a traditional theatre vibe.

As well as the Theatre Artists Fund, we are also working with Capital Theatres and Acting 4 Others on this project, with some of the funds being donated to their causes.

ALSO, we are recording a very special performance of our Jack and the Beer Hops pantomime, via Zoom, which will be live on our website at brewgooder.com/panto from December 12th-31st.”

How long did it take from having the idea to arriving in your webshop?

“I believe the first conversation between James and I was around the 24th August, and we launched on November 24th, so exactly 3 months!”

Any other considerations from a design point of view?

“From a personal point of view, I believe it’s the box that truly makes this product what it is. We knew we wanted the cans to be positioned as if on the stage, and Boxmart really made that happen for us while ensuring they were super safe in transit. The curtain opening really enhances the unboxing experience.”

What’s the Brewgooder design ethos, this project aside?

“Our design ethos up to this point on our core range and branding has been very reflective of our clean water roots, and particularly the country of Malawi where the majority of our projects are based. So from traditional patterning to the names of our beers being based on districts and phrases that have originated there. We also frequently collaborate with different designers and like to offer the white space to not just the other brewer involved but also the cause or issue we are trying to raise awareness of, which is epitomised with this project!”   


Character illustrations – Jamie Macdonald AirShip23 https://airship23.com/

Labels and box illustration – Jez Dunn – Studio Happy Place https://www.studiohappyplace.com/

Box design – Boxmart

Photography – Ground Level Up https://www.groundlevelup.com/

Where is it available? 

Online from our webshop! https://shop.brewgooder.com/product/jack-and-the-beer-hops/


Featured Designer: Leigh Pearce, Cloak + Dagger

Leigh is the designer from the trio behind Cloak + Dagger. He spent his formative years fraternising with graffiti artists, listening to rap records and watching gory horror films and B movies – all of which have influenced the look of Cloak + Dagger’s artwork.

We fell in love with Cloak + Dagger’s design early on in the research for the book. There’s such a vibrant consistency to the look and feel, and we love the laid-out label artwork as much as we love the look of the cans on the shelf. The design fizzes with personality and we wanted to know more about the designer behind the brand.

We caught up with Leigh, who talked us through his thought process when designing for Cloak + Dagger:

“As creative director and partner of Lolly Studio, a design and animation agency working with clients including Coca-Cola, easyJet and the World Health Organization, I rose to the challenge of creating artwork that would ensure Cloak + Dagger’s cans stand out in a crowded fridge or on a bottle shop shelf. Not an easy task, but a fun process.

“The names of our beers are abstract and not descriptive in terms of style, strength or colour. Often our names rhyme – this comes from my hip-hop background and experience of writing rap lyrics. I enjoy the syllabic sound the names make: Komodo Bozo, Galactic Catnip, Gigantic Antics, Routes to Pluto.

“Visual consistency across Cloak + Dagger’s range is achieved with a design based on increments of 45-degree angles and a strong but minimal colour palette. Black and white are core colours, then I add two vibrant secondary colours to help distinguish each beer.

My passion for golden-era hip-hop resonates through our artwork. Komodo Bozo for instance makes a nod to Pharoah Monch’s Godzilla soundtrack-sampling rap anthem ‘Simon Says’, with a snippet of the song’s lyrics also gracing the can.  All cans feature similar lyrics and messaging.

The bold style of the artwork is influenced by graffiti. I often use dots, broad strokes and highlights and light flares, albeit in a vectorised format, all techniques employed by my subway art heroes. Most designs are character-based, which is a core element of my illustration style.”

Leigh also showed us how the design for each can develops from early sketches to the final image on the can.

Leigh adds: “The language is confident, conversational and waffle free, right through to the standard informational messages on the can: “Yo, please delight in our beers responsibly” & “Recycle=Karma”.

Some other things we wanted to know about Leigh:

Where you trained: After finishing my Foundation in Brighton I went on to Central Saint Martins In London for a BA course in Art and Design. I left after the first year as it wasn’t the right fit for me. Came back to Brighton, ran a pub and reassessed. So I guess you could say I’m self-trained.
Design influences: I get a lot of my influence from 80’s and early 90’s street culture, skateboard graphics, subway art, Charlie Harper and Sesame Street 😁
Apart from Cloak & Dagger, what’s your favourite brewery and why: Our local heroes Burning Sky because they make all kinds of delicious beer in many styles. When I can’t get Komodo Bozo, I seek out Arise.
Favourite pub or bar: The Cloak Room. It’s the Cloak and Dagger taproom / canteen in Brighton. www.cloakroombrighton.com
Favourite bar snack: Beerkins (fried pickles)
What you’re currently listening to: Flicking between Sault – Untitled (Black Is) & Lord Goat – Final Expenses. 
Cats or dogs? Cats.

Check out Leigh’s Instagram page.