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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Michigan Beer Label Competition, Part 5. Ranks 7-8

Here are the next rankings for the Michigan Beer Label Competition.  The next post will announce the top breweries for labels in Michigan.  The tension is getting too much to bear.  It’s time for a great Michigan beer…

Saugatuck Brewing Company.  Score: 23; Rank: Tied for 8th out of 36.
Four breweries tied for 8th best labels in Michigan.  Saugatuck Brewing Company, in Douglas, began expanding their bottled offerings in the past several years. Now, there are about 10 varieties available to those who know where to look.  The brewery’s mainstay labels are pretty appealing.   The labels have the brewery logo across the top (I like the logo), the beer name in the middle, and a depiction of a scene that relates to the beer name on the bottom.  Many of the beer names celebrate the history of the Saugatuck area and the labels have an explanation of the names and artwork.  This scheme makes for a great regional beer experience. 

The brewery also offers some seasonal and one-time beers.  These labels appear to be developed specifically for the beer and do not follow the format of their mainstays, greatly improving their label variety.  My two favorites are their ode to Western Michigan’s rockabilly queen Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys and Continuum IPA.

Dewey Cannon Winery and Brewpub.  Score 23: Rank: Tied for 8th out of 36.
I have to admit that I knew very little about the Dewey Canyon Winery and Brewing Company until recently.  The brewery is located in the Southwest corner of Michigan in the city of Three Oaks.  I don’t think that they sell packaged beer, but they have developed labels for at least 4 beers.

The labels are oval and depict slice-of-life scenes that are related to the beer names and styles. The artwork is detailed and interesting.   I like the label for Dewey Cannon IPA, which depicts a cannon.  This same image is also used on the most of wine labels.  My favorite label from this brewery is Captain Easy, with the twenty-first century blond babe posing in shorts who looks like she should be painted on the side of a World War II bomber. I like the double-meaning for the name.  The only downside to the labels is that neither they nor the website show the ABV%.

Cranker’s Brewery.  Score: 23; Rank: Tied for 8th out of 36.
This brewery, out of Big Rapids, only started producing beer this past year.  Not many of their bottled beers have made to my part of the state, but the ones I have tried are really quite good and will likely improve with time once they start to build a market and can experiment a bit with the beer styles. Their website shows about a dozen types of beers and labels have been developed for them all.   All of the labels follow the same design with a stark black background, the brewery logo across the bottom, and the beer name written around an oval picture.

The artwork for the pictures depicts scenes from the 1920s or 1930s.  The artwork is really interesting and fun.   They had a label competition for their Bulldog Red Irish Ale, and this is the only label that does not fit well with the label scheme, but I like the label regardless. All labels have the alcohol content and the following words: “Bibete Cerevisiam Bonam Hominibus Bonis.”  According to Google Translate this means “Good men who drink beer,” which is very close the brewey's motto “Drink good beer with good people” or in Latin “Bibere bonum cervisiam cum bonus populus.”  Good stuff indeed!

Atwater Brewing Company.  Score: 23; Rank: Tied for 8th out of 36.
Atwater brewing has been a leading brewery in the Detroit area for 15 years.  They make a wide variety of good beers, with about 20 types shown on their website.  The brewery employs one basic labeling scheme that involves the circular brewery logo at the center, four colored spokes radiating out to the label edges, and artwork in the background.  There is lots of variation on this theme including a the normally mellow logo character going nuts on the label of Atwater’s Conniption Fit Double IPA. I found that detail to be quite amusing.

My favorite labels from Atwater, however, are the new ones depicting the hot Detroit beer ladies: Dirty Blonde, Teufel Bock, and Double Down Imperial Amber.  It seems that many Michigan Breweries have chosen to help sell their beer by putting pretty young women on the labels.  I think you can’t go wrong with this marketing technique.   

Oh and by the way, Atwater puts both ABV, IBU, and Plato on their labels.  Prost!

Brewery Vivant.  Score: 24; Rank 7th out of 36.
A relatively new treasure in the Michigan Brewery scene is Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids.  I don’t know what it is about the Grand Rapids area that has led to so many great breweries, but I’m glad I live close enough to visit.  The brewery’s packaged beer is in pint cans, except for their collaboration with New Belgium brewery in Ft. Collins, Colorado (that one is sold in 22 oz bombers).  They have three mainstay beers and several one-off or seasonal beers. All of the labels are shaped like a shield, with artwork that related to the beer name and or style. 

The artwork for the mainstay beers are all stylized Belgium scenes, while the artwork for the others vary substantially.  I particularly like the label for Klüdde Belgian Style Dark Ale, and would love to try that beer.  You can see the label here:

The cans include all sorts of information about the beer, including food pairing suggestions, why the brewery uses cans, alcohol level, and the like. Brewery Vivant’s Zaison is my favorite beer for 2012.  Too bad I can’t find it anymore.

Sorry to stretch this out into yet one more post, but rest assured the next post will reveal the winners.


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