Autumn is arguably the best season for great craft beer, and for that matter great label design. Much-loved seasonal pumpkin brews often yield some of the most creative and eccentric bottles, perhaps a testament to their rich flavors and complex character.
Apart from genre and favorable references, looks are honestly one of the biggest factors when I’m picking out a new beer. A nice bottle design may not necessarily reflect a beverage’s quality, but brewers commonly allure to delicious taste by designing labels that draw in first-time consumers.
Here I’ve chosen 7 of the best pumpkin beer bottles to pick apart for the sake of commending great design. To the graphic design geeks and craft beer connoisseurs: cheers!
1) Southern Tier’s Pumking
Pumking is bright, regal and ripe. A big fat pumpkin seems like the cliché choice for a pumpkin beer label, but Southern Tier spices it up and really makes it work.
Their king is crowned with a distinct headpiece and smiles with menacing regard as bats fly overhead – a perfect personification of Halloween festivities. Neon orange floods the label and creates a stark contrast with the rest of the bottle, really making that “pumking” typography pop.
The brewery’s logo spans the side in font as large as the beer’s name (a smart branding move for STBC). And aside from all this, the pumking bottle is dripping with personality. It’s simple but vibrant, and it has a tangible texture thanks to artful screen printing – all are likely reasons this beer has gained immense popularity, taste aside.
2) Rogue’s Chatoe Pumpkin Patch Ale
Pumpkin Patch Ale is big, luminous, and in charge. The bottle is completely enveloped in a shiny orange finish, with green and white highlights to offset the text and simple graphic elements.
Color is obviously the big player on this label – the organic orange sheen turns this beer into its own pumpkin sitting on the shelf. It’s an attractive bottle that stands out from the competition and is simply impossible to miss. Their GYO (grow your own) mantra borders the label as a reminder that this beer’s ingredients exclusively come from the same trusted brewery. The clenched fist grasps a vine of fresh hops, enforcing Rogue’s auteur vision of a beer all its own.
Overall, this design makes a statement with its crisp, concise semblance. It’s an irresistible catch.
3) New Belgium’s Kick
Kick is boisterous, expressive and well-composed. It’s aptly named, presenting a loud and delectable mix of pumpkin and cranberry origins. Kick is part of New Belgium Brewing’s “Lips of Faith” series, which brings some fantastic design to the table for each of its specialty beers.
This label flows across the bottle to create a simple but snazzy presentation. A dichromatic color palette symbolizes the untraditional amalgam of ingredients and gives this beer a load of pizazz. The red “Lips of Faith” stamp sits beside brighter text, creating a nice geometric touch that harmonizes with the surrounding pointillism.
This is a label that deviates from the regular rectangular strip and does it with real class. Big props to New Belgium on their slick graphic design.
4) Flying Dog’s The Fear
The Fear is dark, bold and, well, fearsome. Flying Dog’s labels bear some of the wildest (and edgiest) illustrations you’ll find on a beer, and The Fear is no exception.
This imperial pumpkin ale exhibits a twisted primordial creature, greeting the drinker to an intense experience. The bottle’s chaotic character embodies the strong palate of the beer and effectively draws an inquisitive shopper’s gaze. Its dark purplish-brown backdrop sets it apart from seasonal color norms, and the added orange splotches create an appealing visual dynamic.
The clean-cut computer generated fonts seen on other beer labels are abandoned for turbulent ink scrabbles that spell out the brew’s title (thanks to Ralph Steadman’s skilled hand). This brewery is never afraid to stand out, and frankly this is what makes their bottle designs so damned cool.
5) Cambridge Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Ale
The Great Pumpkin Ale is simple, cordial and palpable. A smashed pumpkin generally disheartens us at first glance, but if you’re talking beer then it’s more an adjective for good taste. I mean, if my beer poured like a thick pumpkin puree, I certainly wouldn’t complain. That sounds delicious.
This label is backed by a complementary, linear teal pattern that makes those pumpkin chunks pop. The crooked textual arrangement draws your eye through the scattered squash shards. Both the beer name and brewery title are coarse and festive, created in a fashion that’s characteristic of the autumnal aesthetic.
In short, Great Pumpkin Ale is a beer that really makes me want to taste it. And I’m willing to bet you feel the same way.
6) Midnight Sun’s Trickster
Trickster is rich, pied and zany. There’s a lot going on inside this design, but it does well to exemplify the name. Negative space is nearly nonexistent on this crazy label, but that’s not always a bad thing.
The run of the mill pumpkin becomes a jester-like character, donning a cap of green tendrils and dangling skull emblems. The beer’s title script winds and spirals across the label, complementing the character’s curvy forms above. And while some seasonals keep their color scheme simple, Trickster goes all out with a variety of warm neons and paler azures.
The Alaskan brewery bonds their name in bright red and yellow to the very top of the decal, so we won’t soon forget whose beer this is. Great design from a growing brewery – I’ll have to track this one down in the near future.
7) Uinta’s Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin
Oak Jacked is neat, playful and enthusiastic. It’s another awesome illustrated label that provides its beer with a unique personality and great graphic appeal.
Uinta puts a spin on oak aged beer with their jack-o-lantern-in-the-box, pointing to the details with its Mickey Mouse glove. The color palette utilizes complementary red and green, orange and teal, alongside the brown textured barrel that gives the label its focus. Its hand-drawn typography is rough and stylized, placing special emphasis on the “jacked” (another play on words for this 10.31% brew).
Sure, I may be partial to the sketched style. But the Oak Jacked label is creative and well-designed no matter how you look at it.
What other pumpkin beers bear great label designs this season? Share your thoughts in the comments if I missed any!