Updating Labels

The longer I continue brewing, the more I enjoy revisiting older recipes and using my added experience to create updated versions. My list of annual re-brews continues to grow and with the new batches come new labels.
I just covered my various label templates through the years, sometimes updating for re-brews is as simple as taking the old artwork and placing it into the new template. That is what I did recently with Jade Otter. I loved the old artwork and because my previous and more recent template both had room for square artwork, it easily fit in.
Sometimes I want to do a little bit more to update old labels while keeping the main elements. I did that recently with Yellow Cat Tart Cider. The original Tart Cider label is Amy’s all time favorite. That was done on my original template with rectangular artwork, though so at the very least, I would have had to crop it. Over time, though, I grew to not like the text. Luckily I actually had all of the original files and was able to pull out the vector artwork and add new text. I slightly changed the name, got rid of the drinking instructions and switched over to my go to font, Helvetica. I used the overlay layer style in Photoshop to blend the new text into the artwork and I’m very happy with the results.
Last year, for another cider, my Yellow Cat Mulled Cider, I decided to use the artwork from the previous year’s batch of Yellow Cat Sweet Cider as the basis for a new label. I don’t remember the full process, but I took the old artwork, which was hand drawn colored in Photoshop and did a bunch of editing. I distorted the image and put on some various filters then hand wrote the new text and placed it on top with more filters. This was, honestly, a quick job that I went into without any big idea of what I was doing. I thought of this as sort of “sampling” the old label, as in music. Surprisingly, I really like the results. This could have easily, and to some people may still be a big mess. I like the halftone colors and I think the overall look works well with this somewhat odd cider.
N.E. Pilsener was my first attempt at a classic lager style. When it came time to take a crack at a Helles, N.E. Helles seemed the natural fit. Then I did N.E. Maibock. For all of these, I kept the idea of replacing the “B” in the Non-Existent Brewing logo with the beer style and changing the color to somewhat coincide with the beer. I took varying levels of care in constructing these new logos, trying to make them all look like part of a set but still be a bit more individualistic. For the Pils, I was very careful to keep the word uniform and look like the original logo. For Helles, I left it a bit sloppy. Then for Maibock, I used actually used a font as opposed to drawing the letters with the pen tool in Illustrator as I had for the other two and the original N.E.B. logo. I kind of like the N.E. Blank theme, but I’m hoping to go in a little bit different direction with the next entry in the series. I just don’t know what that direction is yet.
I have yet to make a new label for this year’s batch of Old SMaSHy, but the plan is to start from scratch with the 2013 label as a loose reference point. For last year’s label, I picked a font that I liked and then kept it very simple in design, just giving the name, although I attempted to make it look sort of embossed with a metallic sheen. I think it worked out okay, but I want to again move to Helvetica and bring it more into line with my current batch of labels. Because the new font is less flashy, I may incorporate some new elements to keep it interesting, though the main goal is to look somehow “classy” or “classic” with some English influence. There won’t be any cats or hand drawn art, but maybe some vector art flourishes. We’ll see.

The series of labels that I have done the most with while sticking to the same theme are for my various Berliner Weisse inspired beers. The first two, Berlin(er Weisse) and Ich Bin Ein Berliner seemed natural to keep consistent, but then when I made a second batch of Berlin(er Weisse) and Macto Lango, I decided to stick with it. I had switched templates in between, though so while the art was exactly the same, the two batches of Berlin(er Weisse) were still distinguishable. I have since used the theme again for Sour Cherry Sour. I’m hoping to use it one more time for an upcoming batch called No Need to Argue. Can you guess what that will be?
Amy NiKolsch1AmyNi-Kolsch2014 copy
Anyway, there are lots of ways to update labels for different batches of the same type of beer and I always like experimenting with them. These are just some of my recent ones. I have more on the way with impending batches of Amy Ni-Kölsch, Yellow Cat Sweet Cider and maybe Dawn of the Red along with more in my series of classic lager styles.


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