On Bottle DesignOld Town Brewing, our old neighbors, decided to…

On Bottle Design

Old Town Brewing, our old neighbors, decided to change things up in 2018. Goodbye, 22 ounce bombers. Hello, sleek 500mL bottles. Each new bottle features a pared down, black and gold label which, trademark dispute with the city of Portland over, prominently features the leaping stag logo. The lower half of the label is color coded to the beer inside. Dark maroon means Paulie’s Not Irish, the Irish Red Ale. 

It’s nice. It’s modern. It doesn’t quite work. 

For one thing, the design almost seems like a retread of pFriem’s bottles. Same size, gold and black theme, only slight variation for each beer. It’s not worth fighting over – no one owns the color gold. But I think putting them side-by-side you can see how Old Town’s new label doesn’t work quite as well.

It’s the name. 

PFriem bottles all their beers under a simple style name. Pilsner, IPA, Belgian-Style Dark Ale – the minimalist labels are met with minimalist names. It’s cohesive. But Old Town is still sticking and older model of beer naming. They’re jokey. There’s a story behind each beer name. But when they are shrunk down to twelve point type, they just look dumb. Pillowfist tells a story, but when you slap it on a generic bottle, it looks the same as a Kolsch. 

Granted, it’s probably extremely cheap to slap a new name on these simple logos, especially compared to designing a whole new brand for each new beer. But when you go through the trouble of coming up with a catchy name, it seems like a waste to slap it on a premade label.