In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital and consuming is less about a physical experience, it seems that our yearning for a tangible, disruptive and creative experience is still burning brightly.
Not so long ago music, and especially the album sleeve, was one of the great canvases for artists, designers, illustrators and conceptual thinkers. Now, as music is generally visualised through tiny grabs on platforms like Spotify, it seems craft beer has become the default media for a new design rock ‘n’ roll.

Let’s look at the similarities. Creative, experimental, subversive breweries are the new record labels, appearing all over the place and flooding the market with their latest releases. We’re bombarded with e-mails about new beer creations and it’s so easy to get them delivered. Now we can also visit our local beer boutiques and craft caves that are popping up in every town to satisfy this thirst. Here you can take a risk and buy something you know nothing about, seek advice about what suits your taste, or buy what looks intriguing. It’s as visual and tactile as the traditional record shop experience really.

Entering a beer shop is a colour onslaught. Every can and bottle trying to capture your attention with a crazy name and the most disruptive design possible. It all merges into a mass of visual noise. But just like a great album cover, it’s the can with a concept, the one trying to evoke the spirit of the experience and say something different, will always capture your imagination. With their punk attitude, BrewDog, Tiny Rebel and Beavertown are loud, unapologetic and subversive.

Now take a look at ‘Life Without Oxygen’ by ‘Left Hand Giant’ – it sounds more like a band and a song than a beer from a brewery. The contemporary colours, use of space, intriguing illustration style, typography, and actual name all combine to create a unique personality and experience beyond punk. Best of all, when advertising, they stretch the can wrap out to reveal the whole design.

A more chilled out ambient approach to beer design is now developing. The likes of North Brewing are contemporary and abstract. Designs from Commonwealth Brewing are a trip into psychedelia. Both concept styles really stand out and wouldn’t look out of place as album designs.

So what’s next?
As micro breweries release more and more batches and different brews, what’s going to visually stand out in growing swell of beer?
Photography is so underused on can and bottle label artwork it has to be the next trend. When you get it right it looks great. Take a look at Fieldwork Brewing’s approach – inspired by the love of outdoors and really evocative of exploration.

And it’s only a matter of time before we can upload a snap, get it printed on a can, filled with your customised flavour, and get it delivered. Everyone can be the masters of their own artistry, or just put their face on it and become a beer rock star. Vedett are always one of the most creative in the beer industry and they have demonstrated this idea in a limited form with their ‘create your own label’ offer. Give it a go here – it’s the future and it’s great fun.