Put a label on it

Spotlighting stellar local beer labels and logos.

John Newgard

North Brewing Company
Gus’ 65m Ale
Jill Jackson—owner of Jill + Jack Paper—was one of the artists behind North’s series of illustrated labels all designed by women. She first worked with the brewery last summer, when she designed the label for its Lawrencetown Blonde. More recently, she revamped the look of Gus’ 65m Ale, one of North Brewing’s first beers. “It’s really this idea of, you know, a real community of small businesses all building each other up,” says Jackson. The label’s background features the names of the businesses that North has worked with to date. “They wanted a way to incorporate that idea but also not have it in your face.”

2 Crows Brewing
company logo
Freelance designer Anthony Taaffe feels “simple is best,” and that’s the approach he took when creating the logo featured on the 2 Crows beer cans. “I had a fair amount of freedom,” says Taaffe. “That said, I always start off with trying to understand what the client is trying to get at.” They didn’t want a piece that looked “over-illustrative” and Taaffe was asked to draw from “European sensibility.” He came back with four design ideas, and they chose Taaffe’s favourite: A crow that looked like a “slight off-kilter 3D image,” he says. “There was something engaging about that and quite simple.”

Garrison Brewing Company
Garrison’s seasonal chocolate stout sports a design by Alex Pearson. He first tried experimenting with ominous mountain ranges through illustrations he compares to The Revenant. He was steered in a different direction. “I illustrated the 400-HP snowblower with some mag wheels on it,” says Pearson, Garrison’s in-house designer. “Everyone was instantly like, ‘Oh, wow.’” It’s one of the labels he’s proudest of. The cruel irony is that Pearson has never tasted Wintervention—he’s diabetic. Thankfully, the brewmaster is good at describing beer flavours to him. “I’ve been doing it long enough now that I see the ingredients and I kinda know where they’re going with it anyway.”

Big Spruce Brewing
RA RA Rasputin
It started with a Boney M. song and a Russian imperial stout. After the beer’s name was nailed in a brainstorming session, it was settled—an illustrated portrait of Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin was going on the label. “It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek nod of the head to Russian origin of the beer,” says Big Spruce co-owner Jeremy White. Although Big Spruce employs the use of a graphic designer, White and his team are part of the process. “For us, it’s an important step,” he says. “We’re intimately involved in the naming of beers, with the design of all logos—the structure and layout of all our designs, colour choices—that’s really all us, done through a graphic artist.”

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

Our Thursday email gets you caught up with The Coast. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.