Louisiana Beer – Think Outside the Bottle

When is the last time you’ve taken a peek at the beer section of your local liquor store? If you’re the anxious type, you might just want to avoid it all together, unless of course you love the idea of spending an hour aimlessly scanning over thousands of bottlesDouble Dry-Hopped Pale Ales, Maple Bacon Coffee Porters, Peanut Butter Imperial Stouts – this ain’t your father’s beer selection.

 

Gone are the days when you can walk into a bar and simply order “dark” or “light”. It’s obvious we’re currently living in the Golden Age of Craft Beer, and if you don’t know how to narrow down your choices, you will be wasting a lot of time in that walk-in beer fridge. *Cue Gucci Mane “Brrr”*  

Luckily, in today’s magical tech world, you can simply pull out your pocket computer, type the name of the beer in and read reviews right there in the middle of the store. If you’re like me, another way to waste your precious time on earth is to select a beer based on the artwork or design of the beer label. After all, ordering that East Coast Grapefruit IPA should show that you have good taste in beer and design, right?  

To make your decision a little easier next time you’re belly up to the bar, I will be selflessly tasting six popular Louisiana brews, rating them based on not only taste but also design, and combining the ratings into one final Overall Rating*Enjoy Responsibly: 

*beers are rated on a scale of 0 to 5 stars

Turbodog

My Overall Rating: 3.7 Stars

Style: Brown Ale 

Brewery: Abita Brewing Co. 

Flavor Profile: Malty, Caramel 

The design team has patented a style that is 100% unmistakably Abita, making them really stand out among others on the shelf. Their use of color and texture is striking, drawing obvious influence from New Orleans artists like George Rodrigue and Dianne Parks. The only thing missing from this design is a better use of typography. Abita’s other label designs use beautiful custom lettering that interact with the background image, but the type in this design seems like more of an afterthought. 

 Scorecard Breakdown: 

Overall Taste: 2.5/5 

Overall Creativity: 4/5 

Artwork: 5/5 

Typography: 2/5 

Shelf Appeal: 5/5 

Pompous Pelican 

My Overall Rating: 2.4 Stars

Style: Imperial India Pale Ale 

Brewery: Southern Craft Brewing Co. 

Flavor Profile: Full, Malty, Hoppy 

While I do love a good minimalistic design, I think this label is a little too reserved for the powerful beer inside the can. There’s nothing wrong with the design from a technical standpoint, but there’s also nothing great about it either. It’s a shame the woodblock print of the pelican seems to be hidden in the background because it has some beautiful details that could make this label really stand out.  

Score Breakdown: 

Overall Taste: 3/5 

Overall Creativity: 2/5 

Artwork: 3/5 

Typography: 2/5 

Shelf Appeal: 2/5 

Swamp Thing IPA 

My Overall Rating: 4.3 Stars

Style: India Pale Ale 

Brewery: Bayou Teche Brewing 

Flavor Profile: Hoppy, Citrusy, Spicy 

I love this design because of the grit and attitude it evokes. Like Turbodog, this packaging stands out, especially among other Louisiana beers. It uses beautifully hand-drawn illustrations that look like they’re taken straight out of a Cajun comic book series. The typography is pretty safe, but I think it works with the busy background imagery.  

Score Breakdown: 

Overall Taste: 3.5/5 

Overall Creativity: 5/5 

Artwork: 5/5 

Typography: 3/5 

Shelf Appeal: 5/5 

Envie

My Overall Rating: 1.9 Stars

Style: America Pale Ale 

Brewery: Parish Brewing Co. 

Flavor Profile: Citrusy, Piney, Hazy 

Although this is my go-to beer of choice in Louisiana, it isn’t exactly my favorite label design. It struggles for the same reason Pompous Pelican does: The design’s not bad, but it’s not great. I assume it’s marketed toward a more conservative crowd, so the simplicity may be intentional, but I think this label could be improved by adding a layer of intrigue to make people stop and pick it up. 

Score Breakdown: 

Overall Taste: 4.5/5 

Overall Creativity: 1/5 

Artwork: 2/5

Typography: 1/5 

Shelf Appeal: 1/5 

Korova Milk Porter

My Overall Rating: 4.2 Stars

Style: Baltic Oatmeal Milk Porter 

Brewery: Gnarly Barley Brewing Co. 

Flavor Profile: Smooth, Chocolatey 

This design is just as delicious as the beer. Their technique of using fluid forms throughout hint at the rich milky goodness inside the can. The combination of black, white, and orange work really well together on this can making it loud, but without really busy line work.  

Score Breakdown: 

Overall Taste: 4/5 

Overall Creativity: 5/5 

Artwork: 4/5 

Typography: 4/5 

Shelf Appeal: 4/5 

Commotion

My Overall Rating: 4.2

Style: America Pale Ale 

Brewery: Great Raft Brewing 

Flavor Profile: Hoppy, Citrusy 

This is one of those beers that you stand in the middle of store looking at for 5 minutes. All of the beautiful etching details and textures allude to the grit and craft that goes into the brewing process. The only thing that could use some improvement is the lettering for “Commotion” which feels a little out of place with the arrow details on the letterforms. 

Score Breakdown : 

Overall Taste: 4/5 

Overall Creativity: 5/5 

Artwork: 4/5 

Typography: 4/5 

Shelf Appeal: 4/5 

Surprise Extra! 

Ghost in the Machine 

My Overall Rating: 4.8 Stars 

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA 

Brewery: Parish Brewing Co. 

Flavor Profile: Smooth, Floral, Juicy 

Because this beer is limited release,  I wasn’t able to get my hands on it for the purpose of this blog, but I had to include it because I love the beer and label design. It’s a delicious beer so it sells out quickly, but you could argue that the artwork has something to do with it. It’s designed by the same designer of the Envie bottle, and they really nailed it on this one. The psychedelic colors, paired with the bold ink illustration of a hop-filled skull, strikes a nice balance of playful and edgy. I think the bold semi-serif used for “Ghost In The Machine” gives the overall design a classic feel, like it could be a poster for an 80s movie. 

Score Breakdown : 

Overall Taste: 5/5 

Overall Creativity: 5/5 

Artwork: 5/5 

Typography: 4/5 

Shelf Appeal: 5/5 

 

At the end of the day, the way a beer label looks isn’t directly tied to the success of the beer (See Envie). But in more competitive markets (like Portland), you can’t always rely on word of mouth to sell a beer. After finishing my rankings, I noticed that the labels with striking illustrations or scenes, bold colors and custom typography ranked above the rest. With the number of new breweries opening every week, it might be a good idea for companies to invest in labels that have these characteristics to help their product stand out. 

 

Cheers! 

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