If your idea of a great beer label is the red, white and blue colors on Anheuser-Busch’s signature product, move along — there’s nothing to see here. If, on the other hand, you walk through a store that has an extensive collection of microbrews and craft beers and marvel at the creativity and artwork on many of the labels, read on. Microbreweries long ago discovered that while making a great-tasting beer is imperative, a creative, offbeat label can help brand their product. With more than 4,000 microbreweries and brewpubs in the United States, it can take more than great taste to distinguish a beer. Here are some bizarre, yet undeniably great, microbrew labels.
10. Evil Urges
Short’s Brewing Co. (Bellaire, Mich.) describes Evil Urges as “a Belgian dark strong ale with a deep dark brown color. A sharp aroma of chocolate and molasses hits the senses, reminiscent of a rich liqueur.” But there is no explanation for why the cat looks so unhappy. By the way, there seems to be dozens of microbrewery logos and labels featuring dogs, but not so many featuring cats. We have no idea why.
9. Vas Deferens
We won’t go into details about the surgical “procedure” being performed by the demon in the label. The Caldera Brewing Co. (Ashland, Ore.) describes Vas Deferens as “a Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale with a unique twist incorporating a little snip of this and a little snip of that. This is a rare release, as this ale is not meant to reproduce.” Suddenly, the label makes sense.
8. Koncord Kombat
This retired beer from Manchester Brewing Co. in Manchester, N.H., displays a Soviet tank rolling over the state capitol building in Concord. We are thankful that type of armed dissent doesn’t happen in Amerika.
7. 668 Neighbor of the Beast
This Belgian strong pale ale-style beer is a product of the New England Brewing Co. in Woodbridge, Conn. It’s distributed widely throughout the U.S.
6. Apocalypse Cow
3 Floyds Brewing Co. in Hammond, Ind., says “This complex, double India Pale Ale has an intense citrus and floral hop aroma balanced by a velvety malt body which has been augmented with lactose milk sugar.” Ah, that explains the cow reference.
5. Hoptimus Prime
Brewed by New York City’s Ruckus Brewing Co., this American double/imperial IPA-style beer boasts plenty of hops. For those who don’t know, it’s a play on words/tribute to the character Optimus Prime from the Transformers franchise.
4. Modus Hoperandi
Ska Brewing Co. (Durango, Colo.) describes this IPA as “A mix of citrus and pine that will remind you of the time you went on a vision quest and woke up in a pine-grove full of grapefruit trees.” Who hasn’t done that? But wait … is the central figure in the label a skeleton? Yes it is. It’s the Ska Brewing Co. “villain,” Pinstripe, described as the “President/Chief of Conglomeration.”
3. Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale
Ralph Steadman is best known as the illustrator of Hunter S. Thompson’s works. The artist has been creating original artwork for more than 20 years for the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md.
2. Undead Party Crasher
The Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, Mass., brews an extensive line of Clown Shoes beers with quirky and colorful labels. Note the clown shoes on the above zombie slayer on the bottle of American Imperial Stout.
1. Hell or High Watermelon
Brewed by the 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, this wheat beer is, as the label suggests, brewed with watermelon. This microbrewery has a number of other colorful labels, including its Brew Free! Or Die IPA, featuring the presidents on Mount Rushmore looking as you’d expect them to look after a night of too many IPAs. The 21st Amendment, of course, repealed Prohibition, which led years later to the creation of countless colorful microbrewery labels.