Tuesday 26 July 2011

Branding: My Biggest Beer Annoyance

I buy wine by the look of the label and the cue of a few key words which I recognise. For me to look into every single wine I want to buy would see me never looking away from the beer aisle. When I do go for the grape it’s the way the bottle looks which sways my decision because I simply don’t know the flavour differences between a French Bordeaux and an Australian Merlot. Marry that to the price tag (if it looks good but costs £3.50 then I probably won’t buy it) and I make my purchase.

Buying this way means that what I see has to look really good and jump off the shelf into my basket. But what about beer? Over a few years of drinking beers - which I’m sure could be replicated in wine if I drank more of it - I’ve learnt what to expect from a bottle of Belgian dubbel, from a Czech pilsner, a New Zealand pale ale, a British best bitter. So when it comes to a new beer for me to try, it’s the branding which really grabs me.

The bottle label or pumpclip is the beer’s opportunity to catch my attention, draw me in and make me want to buy it, whether it’s on a supermarket shelf or the bar. Some breweries do a very good job, making me want their beers immediately, but others make me frown with disappointment. Take a look at Pump Clip Parade for an example of these beers. Would you order any of them?!

Image is a big thing when it comes to buying something. Some people might like to buy the smutty named pint of ale (“I’ll have a Drew Peacock, love!” 'Drink too much of it and you will!' she replies and Oh! how everyone around the bar lets out a big belly laugh) in the same way that they might wear a fading Fat Willy’s t-shirt with one of those knowing, cheeky grins which says ‘yeah, my t-shirt says willy’. But I don’t like them at all.

It may be a personal choice but a pumpclip or bottle which evokes a farm or steam trains or animals or uses smut or innuendo or cartoons or anything made in Microsoft Word with clip art makes me move on to something else without even trying it. They say to me ‘I’m boring’, ‘I’m not taking this seriously’ and/or ‘I probably won’t taste very good’. I rarely find out if they are good beers or not because I don’t order them.

That's more like it! I love Bristol Beer Factory's labels
Branding is difficult to get right and costs money but it’s also what sells beers to those who don’t know what they are looking for. It’s able to promote the beer but also promote the brewery and give an idea as to what they are like. My tastes might be different to others’, but I like a clean and modern design, something smart but also practical.

Clean and simple and eye-catching. Great beers too.
Compare Magic Rock with Toad Brewery (toad-themed), Marble with Skinners (tossers and knockers), Moor with Nortumberland Ales (some of the worst beer branding in the whole world), Bristol Beer Factory with Fallen Angel (erotic art labels), Kernel with Cotleigh (birds?!). I know which I’m choosing out of these (hint: the first of each comparison is the good one). And is it any coincidence that the better regarded breweries in Britain have the most appealing branding? (And has anyone ever had a really good pint of beer that’s got a terrible, wannabe-funny pumpclip?)

I love the Moor labels.
I judge things I want to consume by their appearance. I’m sure a lot of others do that, too. For new drinkers, if they went into a pub and just saw a line-up of smutty pumpclips then what does that say about real ale? If the pumpclip is bright-coloured and has a cartoon dog licking himself, then what does that say? And will it make them order a beer or not? Faced with a line-up of cleanly designed, smart lager fonts or a few old-looking or pun-laden pumpclips then I know where my money would go. What the good examples I’ve put above do is make me want to order their beers. They look simple and smart and bold, they tell me everything I need to know (style, strength – compare that to the Cupid Stunt clip at the top and I have no idea what the beer is) and they are confident that the beer will do all the hard work once the customer’s attention has been caught.

What do you think are the best branded beers in the UK and what are the worst?

Magic Rock nailed it!
The ‘bad’ examples are just ones I’ve noticed while drinking or looking on PCP. There are many more than just the ones I’ve listed. The hit-list of should-be-banned pumpclip items are: cartoons, animals, smut, farms, clip art/word art, innuendo. Anything more to add? This post could have a quick word-swapping edit run over it and it would easily apply to websites as well. Why are there so many bad brewery websites?


  1. This was very noticable on the #Twissup where you weren't impressed with the pumpclip for Brass Monkey Baboon, which I think is a pretty good beer.

    A far bigger turnoff for me though is a pumpclip or label full of waffle such as what you get with Abbeydale "Dr Morton's" range of beers. Naff names such as "piddle in the hole" don't impress me either.

    I still maintain though, that Salamander brewery have the worst pumpclips on the planet.

  2. I feel pretty much the same way, though I'm less bothered by animals/birds, provided they are well done. For example, I really like the Old Dairy Brewery's branding, which has a nice period feel and is true to the history of the brewery site. Genuinely good beer, too.

  3. At a local beer and food festival recently, which had some great local breweries (Amber Ales the most notable) and local pubs offering some super beers all being widely sampled and frequented by the locals. There was one stand which had no takers … http://www.directbeers.com/Bottled-Beers.php Hopefully the Derbyshire public have more discerning taste than to give this type of cheap marketing gag any time.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly, not that I'm a big beer drinker, but as husband is, I enjoy buying beers for him. Your comments apply just as much to bottle labels as pumpclips!

    With the exception of that barn owl (which is dull but hardly offensive or ugly or amateur in the style of the rest of your examples) I would absolutely never choose beers with smutty images, innuendo names, cartoon clipart, photos of the family dogs or anything else you've listed.

    I don't mind smutty amongst friends having a laugh but when a producer chooses to represent themselves professionally that way, it's a huge turn off.

    I love simple, clean designs such as Marble, Kernel, Bath Ales (I am happy to wear the T shirt from the latter because it looks so good).

    I like Brewdog too though their poncy passages of text are awful!!!

  5. Whilst I do agree with your general comments about branding, I think it would be dull if all breweries went for a modern, clean look. Northumberland Ales do take it too far though - the artwork is dreadful.

    I actually quite like the Skinner's branding - they name their beers after Cornish folklore characters, which explains some of the names. Unlike Northumberland, the artwork itself looks professionally done and is certainly eye catching. Their beers are generally very good too.

    There's nothing really wrong with Cotleigh - they support the Hawk and Owl Trust which explains why they use birds on their labels. Again, I've tried a number of their beers and they are generally very good.

  6. I agree entirely with what you say about naff labels and pumpclips, though maybe you are a bit hard on themed labels, which appeal to some not others. (They don't appeal to me, but owls and trains aren't offensive as such).

    Good design is always better and it doesn't have to be expensive I'd suggest.

    As for the worst? I think you have illustrated that with the Northumberland ones. The best? Hmm. Need to think about that.

  7. Good design certainly doesn't have to be expensive - there's a small local brewery near me which I think has excellent branding:


    Those pictures on the left are exactly what their pump clips look like. Eye catching and simple. Excellent beers too.

  8. I was lucky enough to be at the Summer Wine Brewery last night and a question was raised about their choice of branding which I think is great, the guys explained pretty much as you have that it was designed to be simple, clear but instantly recognisable on the bar & the soon to be, bottles.
    Marble brewers were there too chipping in their words of agreement, they too having less bold but nonetheless eye-catching clips & labels.
    Unsurprisingly my fridge, beer cupboard and line of empties generally features most of these brands on a regular basis.

  9. For simple, effective branding I'd have to say Otley from my local breweries. Especially now all the badges have pump crowns on describing the beer.

    The worst? Wyre Piddle for me

  10. T_i_B - Waffle is rubbish on a pumpclip, I agree! Just checked out Salamander and it's terrible!

    JJW - Old Dairy is ok. It still evokes things which I don't relate to beer though like farms and cow shit and milk! They are very striking on the bar though and at least tell you what the beer style is.

    dpm - That's shocking!! I need to add that into this post! Whoever thought that was a good idea?!

    Kavey - The Cotleigh is professional and looks nice but it just says old and boring to me which I then immediately translate as how the beer will taste. They also say little about the beers themselves - what's a Premium Ale?! The Bath design is nice and clean and I like that.

    OllyC - If there's a story behind the brand then that's good, but with Skinners and Cotleigh I have no idea what they are so can only see them as I see them (which is how most people will see them). The beers are ok but I rarely drink them because I'm put off by their appearances. And Grain is very handsome branding. I like the website a lot as well. Not had the beers before so I want to try them now!

    Tandleman - Some themes are good, some aren't! It's more of the associations which I don't like with trains and owls - they don't say DRINK ME.

    Phil - SWB are very striking and the beers taste like you expect them to - big and bold and bright. Summer Wine are definitely on the good list!

    Ed - Otley are very good, I agree, and you can see them from across the bar. Piddle are less good. I've been to the brewery bar and the beers are ok, but it's called Piddle. PIDDLE!

  11. How many good beers have shit labels/clips? Very few.

    What completely fascinates me is that there are people out there that genuinely find a beer called "Master Bates" appealing. Who buys something like that?

  12. Here'smy nomination for worst Pumpclip ever.

  13. Mark - I suppose the branding of Skinner's is an acquired taste, but they seem to be doing okay: Waitrose now stocks them and their cask stuff is starting to appear out my way (Suffolk).

    Grain has definitely got it right though. Their Blackwood Stout, Porter, IPA and Harvest Moon are excellent, well worth a try.

  14. Jeff - that beer appeared in my local freehouse a couple of weeks ago! I couldn't bring myself to try it because the branding was so embarrassing.

  15. A question that often goes through my head is: does this branding contribute positively or negatively to the overall image real ale/craft beer?

    It bugs me in a big way that the perpetrators of bad branding make life difficult for everyone in the sector.

    After all, these people are creating a luxury food stuff - i.e. it is consumed entirely for pleasure. Luxury foodstuffs need appropriate branding.

  16. Good branding is indeed important, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with 'fun' branding just as long as it's done well.

    Beer is indeed a luxury product, but it's also something that most people don't take that seriously. A couple of mates and me have a rule that if a pump clip has a flashing light on it, we have to buy that pint :)

    I do like modern, clean branding (Magic Rock's is fantastic) but I think if ALL breweries went down that route, it would make it all a bit dull. There's no place for branding as awful as Northumberland's though - that just harms the image of real ale.

  17. Mark.

    Mearly a mattter of weeks ago you were trying to tell us how great an advert was featuring Rik Mayall and a serious dollop of inuendo.

    I think you should make up your own mind where you stand and stop playing to the crowd.

  18. I agree completely with you, I tend to avoid ugly labels, and probably miss on some excellent beer... But anyway there are enough good beers with nice labels/pumpclips to try so it's not a big problem!

    I also love the Magic Rock, Kernel, Moor designs, but would add Fyne Ales and Thornbridge to the list.

  19. OllyC - I agree that variety is definitely good, and I like the flashing light rule, but like Jeff says, some of these just do damage to everyone! Luckily there are some good ones which make it look better!

    Anon - Fair comment. My thoughts on Bombardier were that I thought as a TV campaign it'd make more people think about Bombardier and therefore buy it, therefore it'd be a success that way and from that Bombardier they could move on to other beers. The Bang On part is good but the innuendo not so. I did get tired of the campaign pretty quickly, to be honest. No 'playing to crowds'. As you'd see from the Bombardier comments, most people disagreed with me and now I disagree with what I put but they were my thoughts at the time. All I do is write my thoughts when I have them.

  20. Like Phil, I was also at the SWB night at Port Street last night. They had a cask beer from Victory on. Now their bottled branding is brightly coloured & in your face, reflecting their beers well. This cask beer however had the most cliche of countryside scenes on the pump clip. Wishy-washy watercolours, river running through the wide open valley, and to set it all off nicely it was printed on paper poorly stuck to it's backing cardboard. Why the complete change of branding for cask, is it a reflection how the US sees british cask beer?

  21. I forgot to mention Black Isle Brewery, I really like their look as well.

  22. I think this is possibly overstating the importance of branding a little - if it's not misogynist and doesn't contain innuendo then I don't think there's a problem with it - I wouldn't choose Moor over Skinners because I like the look of the label, I'd do it because the beer is nicer.

    What's perhaps more interesting is the complete lack of information about the beer that the label contains (especially pump clips) which can sometimes offer no suggestions as to how the beer was made or why. When's a British brewery going to do a Vertical Epic and put the recipe on the bottle?

  23. Even as the designer of one of the above mentioned "Good" labels, I'd like to point out that it's not just about how "professional" or "well designed" they look.

    I probably wouldn't order Northumberland beers, not because the label is crap but because I don't feel any curiosity about the brewery or connection to the adolescent humour. Same goes for faux rural/industrial/folksy nonsense.

    I've happily ordered pints with really amateurish pump clips if there is some clue that I might like the people behind the product. If the words on the clip suggest that they are passionate about their beer, proud of where it comes from and have tried to make something with a distinctive flavour then I would give it a try.

    Of course a well designed label makes it easier to communicate these things so support your local designer by all means, but support independent breweries as long as they are treating their customers like intelligent, independently minded adults.

  24. Great post Jonathan. Your point about ordering a beer because you might like the people behind the product it absolutely right - I recently purchased a bottle with a poor quality picture of a chap standing next to a dog in a field.

    Objectively, the branding was terrible, but the label contained interesting details about the small, family-run local brewery and I was really keen not only to support their efforts, but to try their product. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised with the high quality of the beer.

    It's trickier with pump clips in pubs, but your point is still valid.

  25. Jonathan -- good point: amateurish can actually be a positive 'brand value'. Some well-rated Belgian beers have labels that look like they were "designed" 30 years ago with Letraset and a biro, but that actually sends all the right signals to punters about the beer's artisanal origins.

    On the other hand, really poor, amateurish branding can suggest that a brewer is careless, sloppy and has poor taste... so what hope for the product in the bottle?

    Too many breweries now have variations on Brewdog's branding, which is c.2003 distressed sans serif fonts and faux graffiti.

    I like the branding on these *a lot*: http://www.cheddarales.co.uk/ Think that's Gill Sans on the labels -- as British as a typeface comes.

  26. Surely the point about cask beer branding is that - for better or worse - it has evolved to meet the needs of the guest beer market, where a beer needs to have immediate appeal to "jump off the bar". In the old days when tied trade dominated, it was fine to just call your beers Mild, Bitter, Best Bitter and Old Ale, but nowadays "Arkwright's Bitter" just doesn't cut the mustard.

    I would say the wilder excesses are restrained in the bottled beer market where the buying process is different.

  27. I was drinking Arkwright's Bitter on Saturday and it was just fine.

  28. Tandleman: Can't find a clip for that online. Is it another good one?

  29. I just plucked that one out of the air without realising it was an actual brewery. However, it seems that three of their range are called Millstream, Run of the Mill and Trouble at the Mill.

  30. I don't think the Barn Owl one is as bad as the others but it's still no 'feat of design'.

    My problem when it comes to wine, and the labels, is that when I'm looking at the selection - it all looks to similar to me. Like a wall of wine and not knowing where to start. I think most places have started splitting them up into region and variety, and that's great, but for me it's still far too much of a mine field to try to know where to start. Beer labels (and certainly bottles too) will always have much more variety and therefore more scope for design triumphs and design follies.

  31. Brain - That's interesting about Victory. Sounds odd! I hope that's not a US reflection of what cask beer is!

    Toine - I like Black Isle too. Very clean and simple but still striking. It also tells you all you need to know.

    Anon - I do think branding makes a difference. Taste ultimately is the most important thing, but would you have selected Moor if it didn't look good? I definitely agree about the lack of info though - that's important. I've been faced with a line of pumpclips before and none have said anything about what the beers are!

    Jonathan - Very good comments and I 100% agree. I can't add more than that! (Which designs are yours!?)

    Bailey - Cheddar is an interesting one. Very simple but quite striking. You can tell they put some thought into it (not just the appearance but the detail) and that's the key.

    Mudgie - There's jumping off the bar into the punter's hand and then there's jumping off the bar and landing flat on the floor! The bottle market is interesting - ok in supermarkets but go to farmers markets and you'll see all sorts of crap!

    Ghostie - A wall of wine is a daunting thing! There's more creativity and flexibility in beer, it seems, but as you say, it's not all triumphant!

  32. Interesting stuff but I find it is very odd that you include the Owl image with the rest and that it is possible for another to state "[s]ame goes for faux rural/industrial/folksy nonsense." Beer is an agricultural product indivisible from its rural foundation, its source. That you are turned off by this can only tell me that you are suffering from an alienation from the means of production, the core Marxist critique, and that you may have an odd sense of the beloved beverage that places too much emphasis on what is outside the container compare to what is in it. As far as I can tell, all your favorite branding is anonymous in terms of design and might as well be selling drinks, ointments, or socks on page 37 of Wallpaper magazine. This is not bad in itself but, unlike beer, it is not about beer much at all.

    A Good Beer Blog

  33. Alan - My beef with the owl (poor owl, it is cute and most don't agree with me on it) is that it evokes things which don't say much about beer. You might say that Kernel's doesn't, for example, but at least it's modern.

    Design and fashion always changes, like our taste in it, and I guess that I just like these brands at the moment. If it works in wallpaper magazine then these guys must be doing something right. You won't find anything by Northumberland in there.

    I'm turned off by branding which evokes boredom or stupidity because I feel it reflects the mentality of the brewery behind it. I want branding which sells it and makes it look interesting. I don't need to see hops or malt on the label to know that it's got it inside the container.

    What brands would you say are not anonymous in terms of their design but still look good and have good beer inside them?

  34. I was thinking about that after I posted and it's the idea of the shield or crest that is so venerable in beer branding. Look at the labels that are included in the last ten or so posts by Ron. There are symbols like the horse shoe, the red rose, the anchor and the harp. They convey meaning within a great design. Look at the Guinness ad on this post - apparently abstract, utterly modern but then you realize you are looking down into a pint of stout. Maybe we need a lexicon of more contemporary subtle brewing symbols - but that isn't that the goal of all great design?

    I do totally agree you on cheap sexist branding but consider fine discrete but dead sexy branding perhaps a different thing. But I also want a look that is not so designed (Kernel say) that it might be selling organic toothpaste or men's shoes. I think that Guinness ad, by very good luck, captures my point.

    A Good Beer Blog

  35. The sexist/pun branding I could do without (seems more like something a macro would come up with), but looking at a wall of beer that all consisted of a similar theme to Kernel would be down right depressing. Though I like the fact they include information about the beer (style, abv, when it was brewed (?)), the styling is extremely repetitive. Even a variation in coloring would help. The problem with the exact same styling is remembering which beer one had.

    If I had a Kernel I didn't enjoy (not that I have, I don't believe they distribute around me) and there is nothing to differentiate their beers from one another, minus a little text, as I stand scanning over beers on a store shelf/bar top, I'd scan over the Kernel beers, wonder if that was the one I didn't like, not risk it and move on to purchase something else. (Granted I would probably remember if I had a porter, and the pale ale was on display, but even then I would probably pass over the Kernel offering, b/c it looked like one I did not enjoy.)

    This is doubly so when dealing with German beers. Same labels, huge long name... I can never remember what I have had and have not had.

    Then again, I had no issue with the Owl logo.

    Mentioning horrible websites... Marble Brewery.

  36. but you know why this happens and the same applies to online presence or any of the other avenues of promoting/marketing a beer, most of these breweries are just too small as businesses either to feel they can get someone in to do it properly for them (and thats not just a cost thing its also a letting go of some control thing) or just arent capable of doing it properly in-house themselves.

    hence designs that look literally like collections of clipart on a powerpoint slide, because thats exactly what most of them are.

    and ok it leads to some distinctly unappealing names & designs, cant say its ever put me off trying a beer [1] but I know from experience its very hard to shift an idea out of someones "vision" for their product, if theyve come up with the design themselves, hence these things kind of get stuck and evolve into whole brands, which arent necessarily the best idea.

    I mean I dont have a problem personally with beers evoking farm/trains or bird links (presume the objection is thats because of the fuddy duddy beer isnt modern image it presents) because where do you draw the line boats, buildings, people. I think the problem is that too many beers fall into automatically using farm/trains/bird images, when the beer itself has no link or association with the image, and its just a quick default shorthand for beer, which shouldnt be what good design should aspire too.

    and though I do think the examples of good design youve shown are great examples of what can be done, and i think they look infinitely more appealing, youve got to remember what looks new, fresh and imaginative today, can quickly look old, tired and unappealing in the future, Fat Willy t-shirts were the height of fashion in the 90's.

    also dont forget hours spent on that all good design, is completely lost when the pub serving the beer just writes them all up on a blackboard and serves the beer direct from a tap room.

    [1] given a choice Id almost always plump for the better designed image/name over the poorer one, simply because IME the poorer ones come from smaller breweries, who can less reliably turn out consistently good beer, but its never prevented me from trying one.

  37. Nice one for naming and shaming Northumberland Ales. nothing but muck.

  38. On the scenario that branding doesn't matter, it's taste that does, what helps make people's decisions when a beer hasn't been tasted before?

  39. Thanks JJW ! The cows are still next door to the Old Dairy Brewery.

    I quite like the striking simplicity of Otley. Magic Rock looks a cluttered to me though. I'm not sure how if it would work well on a pump clip in a crowded bar. I suppose I need to find a pub serving it now...

  40. Agree with most things said, although there are exceptions to the rule. Hawkshead's labels seem a little dated and too busy, but the beer is amazing. I'm not a fan of Thornbridge, but can't knock the quality of the ales.

    The look of the bottle is very important to me as this is what sells it in the deli. This applies to wine and beer. I share your love the clean simple styles of Marble etc. However, if too many breweries kept to this then it would dilute the appeal.

    As for Northumberland Ales, words defy me...

  41. Some very good advice on branding from Boak & Bailey here.

  42. One of the best examples of branding is WEST, a german microbrewery in Glasgow, minimalist and effective.

  43. Mark - It's reputation first, for me. For other? I guess it's similar and a recommendation from the bar? Or just a blind guess and hope for the best.

    Chris - No, it isn't.

  44. We actually manufacture pump clips,we are always asking brewers to talk to several designers before they come to us. Some brewers and their designers think the bigger the better, forgetting that there needs to be a space on bar for drinks to be passed through, others think the more garish and offensive the better, others want silk purces out of pigs ears.
    We have refused to print the ones that had swearing or nudes on.

  45. Thanks for raising yet another fascinating topic, Mark. This is a matter that very much links to the discussion about "beers for women" last week -- many of the pics on Pump Clip Parade really do speak volumes about the way some brewers still see their market. Marketing images tend to construct an ideal viewer, and we tend to read them in terms of imagining the sort of person they're intended to address. Our attitude to the product will then be shaped by how much we feel we are, or aspire to be, that ideal viewer.

    All those ghastly "naughty" labels are not only offensively sexist, they also send out a message that these beers are only for tanked up (male) rugby players and sniggering (male) sad cases -- or, by the looks of some of the more extreme examples on PCP, people on the sex offenders' register! What a horrible and limiting message to send out about a drink that everyone should be able to enjoy and appreciate.

    However when it comes to labels featuring countryside and wildlife I think it's a lot more down to personal taste. All those clean, spare new graphics are just as ideologically loaded in their way, designed to appeal to people who want to feel they can enjoy fine beer and still be hip, urban and cutting edge. But there's a wide audience that associates good beer with natural products, the countryside and rural tradition and no harm in that.

    The Cotleigh labels are very tastefully done, avoiding embarassing Olde Englande cliché; they very much suit the brewery's highly accomplished but quite traditional beers, its location in a part of the country people visit to appreciate its natural beauty, and its desire to be known for its support of wildlife charities.

    I also wonder how much of the conservative associations some of us read from "rural/wildlife" labels is coloured by a British persepective? How do you feel, Mark, about Mendocino's branding, which also features birds, or Ballast Point's, which features fish, or the many US beer brands that use geographical features like mountains?

  46. I think what you've identified is an approach to labelling that could be summed up as (borrowing from Zak) "typography forward, in the modern style": Marble, Moor, Thornbridge, Kernel, Black Isle, SWB and Otley are all recognisably in the same area. As Des says, this is just one style (or type of style) among others, and I think there are some perfectly good designs in other styles: I've got no objection to Adnam's "stylised local landmarks" or Bateman's "scenes from English history", or for that matter to Cotleigh's aviary! I also like the style of Dark Star & Pictish, variations on an instantly recognisable graphic. (Magic Rock is similar but... different.)

    Pet hates: most Salamander labels, and especially the appalling bad taste of their "William Tell" (featuring the face of William S. Burroughs). Abbeydale's "Dr Morton" labels are tedious, but at least they're professional-looking and informative; the standard Abbeydale labels are neither. But my answer to the bad label/good beer question has already been mentioned - Magic Rock. I hate those designs - they make me think of art produced by acid casualties and psychotics. (Great beer, though.)

  47. Val - Interesting to hear from your point of view and good on you for refusing to print some!

    Des - Good points. I think the Cotleigh branding is very professional and of a high quality, it's just a personal taste that it doesn't appeal to me or say anything to me. I don't really like birds, either. All branding is subjective, of course, and I'm sure there are some people out there who find 'Master Bates' funny and order it for joke value, but that's just sad and annoying and it devalues the quality of beers.

    I'm not a big fan of the branding for either Mendocino or Ballast Point. But then I don't really like much American beer branding. The good looking beers are in Italy and New Zealand at the moment, I think.

    Phil - I agree, there are some good designs in all of the styles and there are well thought-out designs too. It is very much a personal thing though. I like clean and simple and practical but others prefer something different.

  48. I quite like the do it yourself approach, it's almost folkart. I agree there is no need for smutty sexist imagery but the none professional look is quite appealing to me. After all, these ales are a product of a craft industry and their unsophisticated look is part o their charm. The pump clips almost remind me of the decorated trucks and buses of Pakistan, each individual and unique. Yeah have a chuckle if you find them amateurish, but don't dismiss the beer just because of the pump clip, (remember what your school teacher said "you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover") you might miss a corker (Skinners for example). I'm lucky I live near a few great pubs that allow me to try the beers before I buy them. If this ervice is available to you I urge you to sample a few of the ales with badly designed pump clips, you could find a gem.

  49. I'm a bit of a traditionalist and like the label designs of Bathams and Donnington the best. I like a simple design, I used to like the old Gadds labels. I am not against puns and joke labels but many seem to say nothing about the beer. I quite like a Merrie Monk or a Slumbering Monk, names that speak of Merry England, and a name like Headbanger or Skull splitter at least tell us something of the beer but "Bucking Fastard!", "Trumpet Trousers!"

  50. Ah, che belle le birre artigianiale italiane! One thing particularly noteworthy about the branding of many Italian craft beers is that it's about the whole package as well as just the label, with a distinctive and customised design for the bottle as well as for the label. But then you're talking about a market that's more than willing to stump up upwards of €10 for a 750ml bottle.

  51. Ive had the most delicious beers from the cheesiest labels.when picking a beer i go for the brewer (from previous encounters).And the style,i like pale and very hoppy.the label doesnt matter a jot!But thats just me.