Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Pumpkin Beer Packaging: Almanac Beer Company

Having a strong passion for design, evaluating branding and packaging design is always present in the way I look at new offerings in the craft beer market. The 24 beer Great Pumpkin Beer Challenge we conducted in October was no exception.

Many of the breweries take similar approaches to their pumpkin beer, using Halloween related illustrations on their labels. Some like Midnight Sun Brewing have a bit more fun bringing a stylized personality to their beers like T.R.E.A.T. and Trickster, but overall many pumpkin beers take a familiar and expected approach making it hard to stand out on shelf.

There was one package in particular that was such a stand out in the crowd from both a craftsmanship and differentiation perspective that we were compelled to find out more about their approach. That winner was San Francisco based Almanac Beer Company's Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine, part of their Farm To Barrel series.

We were fortunate to have a great conversation with Almanac Beer Company's CEO and designer extraordinaire, Damian Fagan. His background previous to Almanac was as a graphics and branding designer in the food and beverage industry for about 15 years. 

"I've been home brewing since 1992 and finally managed to marry two of my passions, beer and design a few years ago when we launched Almanac. We put as much thought and heart into the appearance of our beers as we do the beer itself."

The general theme of Almanac's branding is bringing together old world traditions with new world inspirations, which is how they make their beers; starting with classic, traditional beer styles and bringing their own 21st century, Northern California sensibility to them. 

"I love the classic, traditional feel that woodcut engravings evoke and combining them with bright colors and contemporary typography for an unusual juxtaposition." 

The Farm To Barrel lineup also references mid to late 19th century spirits packaging, where much of the labels are covered in ornate detail, which to Damian always lent a sense of sophistication to the presentation. 

"As the name implies, the Farm To Barrel beers are all aged in oak barrels for many months, so we wanted the appearance to reflect the time and care it took to create the beer."

For more information on Almanac Beer's offerings and where to find them on shelf be sure to visit