Every Friday we raise a glass to celebrate some of the best new boozy bottles to hit store shelves. This week we’re taking a look at some longstanding collaborations between craft beers and the art directors that have given their brands life.
Brixton Brewery, by Eley Kishimoto
Brixton Brewery opened its doors in 2013, under a railway arch in south London’s most bacchanalian borough—an area widely known for its commitment to fine food and drink. “We reckoned that every great neighbourhood deserves a great brewery, and we wanted to bring one to Brixton,” say its founders— and with the explosion of craft breweries in the British capital, it was pretty important that the Brixton brews stood out on store shelves.
This has lead to a long-term collaboration with local pattern wizards Eley Kishimoto, a studio that normally spends its time creating luxuriously patterned fabrics for the fashion industry. Their loud prints have found a welcome home on the labels of every one of the Brixton Brewery’s beers, and the bright colors provide a strong visual accompaniment to an array of fresh flavors.
Omnipollo, by Karl Grandin
Before he became a brewer, Karl Grandin was a celebrated illustrator, but his love for water, yeast and hops proved deeper than his love for pen, paper, and ink, and since 2011 he’s worked with Henok Fentie at the helm of Omnipollo, Sweden’s most experimental brewery. Unlike other breweries, Omnipollo doesn’t have its own premises, and instead conceives of its recipes at home, before traveling “to different breweries across the globe to craft our ales.”
This means that every brew is breathtakingly unique, a fact illustrated to the brewery’s loyal fanbase by a brace of striking labels, all drawn by—you’ll be shocked to discover—Omnipollo’s very own Karl Grandin. Unlike many breweries, Omnipollo’s labels shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a literal representation of the flavours of the brew—at least we hope so, as we can’t really see the appeal of a beer that tastes like severed hands and feet.
Evil Twin, by Martin Justesen
The story of Evil Twin is a saga for the ages—a tale of fraternal feuding escalated to all-out war. Danish physics teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø took his weekend pastime and turned it into a brewing empire called Mikkeller, which is known the world over for its extraordinary beers. Disgruntled by his brother’s success, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø set up a rival outfit, and headed to Brooklyn to take the U.S. by storm. Such drama!
What’s less well known is the role that Martin Justesen has played in creating the Evil Twin identity—a consistent brand mark and distinctive labels based on tessellating triangular shapes. Justesen has also lent his skills to other Brooklyn watering holes, like Tørst and Luksus, but his work for Evil Twin remains his most defining to date.
Mikkeller, by Keith Shore
Which brings us finally to the original and best collaboration between brewer and art director, not to mention the origins of the aforementioned fraternal saga. Since 2006 Mikkel Borg Bjergsø has pushed the limits of brewing, while his friend, and fellow brewer, Keith Shore has pushed the limits of what constitutes and effective beer label.
Shore’s long-limbed character designs have adorned Bjergsø’s bottles since 2013, when the Philadelphia-based artist first discovered the brand in his local beer shop. Like Omnipollo, Mikkeller is a “gypsy” brewery, moving between locations and borrowing other brewer’s equipment to produce around 50 different beers each year. As a result, Shore has his work cut out for him, often working on 10 to 20 different labels at a time, meaning that Mikkeller also has the most distinct visual output of any beer brand.