How design is helping to shape the craft beer industry

The craft beer industry has well and truly brewed and boomed across the UK in recent years, with colourful and quirkily designed cans and labels becoming synonymous with the trend, as well as driving it forward.

There are now more than 1,400 breweries in Britain with a new brewery opening every other day according to figures released by the British Beer and Pub Association last year. To give an idea of the scale of the industry, when craft beer began to take off in 2013, UK on-trade sales showed sales worth £225m, with a growth of 79 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

And so in such a crowded sector its design that’s helping these independent breweries achieve stand out on shelf and allowing designers to “break the rules”.

“The craft beer industry has created some exciting opportunities for designers,” Sean Thomas, creative director, jkr, told The Drum. “There’s a fresh and innovative feel to many of the label designs coming to market – and those appearing on a can have an even greater edge because the canvas is that much bigger; it’s always great to have extra space to work with and to create a design that can be experienced from all sides.

“Craft beer is allowing designers to break the rules; we are making creativity the king, telling strong, fresh stories and building unique narratives, that capture the heart of the brewer and the industry, for every brand”.

Such is the popularity of craft beer a number of awards honouring the sector have popped up, including the Indie Beer Can Festival, which took place in London last night. The event saw indie brewers from across the UK and Ireland gather together to champion the trend for beer cans; a market that has grown from four brands in can two years ago to over 100.

Awards included Best in Show, won by Uprising Treason, Windsor & Eton, Best Lager: Brotherhood Lager by William Bros. Brewing Co and Best Design which was scooped by Redwell Brewery’s Steam Lager.

Thomas, who acted as a judge at the awards said of the Redwell’s design work: “The design had a great tone of voice and instantly appealed to us aesthetically. There was loads to discover; from the bottle hidden in the hour glass to the branding hidden in the stars – it all came together to secure its place as our winner. The label also did its job, telling us what the beer was about; we knew exactly what to expect when opening the can and we weren’t disappointed at all.”

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