For my senior capstone project, I created the craft beer series Aleing Authors which is inspired by great 19th and 20th century writers and their works. These posters highlight each unique beer that corresponds to the authors.
I really enjoy seeing the variety and innovation in spirits and liquor packaging. My interest was particularly caught by the multitudes of craft beer labels I saw and the spike in small craft breweries. The labels of these craft beer bottles had bold personalities of their own and often made humorous cultural references. I love the unique combination of flavors found in craft beer, you won’t find a bacon maple ale or chili beer offered in the large scale industrial breweries.
Additionally, in a time where most of our products, clothing, and electronics are outsourced half way across the world, it is welcoming to see local breweries growing in popularity and supported for the quality and distinctiveness of their product. A renaissance is occurring in the craft beer world.
While researching craft beers, I knew I wanted to create a series, I just had not decided what kind of series it would be. I wanted my beer to have a distinct personality, spark conversations, and be witty and humorous. My beer line would be strongly themed and reach a small niched audience, but resonate strongly with those people. I had considered musicians, artists, dictators, and authors. As I researched, I quickly discovered that the latter had already been referenced in many beers, but there were not so many beers that alluded to authors. I felt that this subject was rich in content and symbolism. I knew that many of my favorite authors were troubled and struggled to cope with their success and usually used alcohol as means to accomplish this.
There are two types of people I wished to target with my craft beer series. The first category includes craft beer enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and brewers. These people would be mainly interested in the quality and flavor of the beer. They include men and women who prefer craft beer over other alcoholic beverages and usually have a greater knowledge of the brewing process than the typical person.
The second segment targeted are educated, literary-minded consumers. The category also varies greatly in age and gender. However, this is a niched group that will recognize the authors featured in the craft beer series. They will understand the references which may be unfamiliar to the layman, and thus recognize the value of my product.
As well as being sold directly from the brewery, my Aleing Authors series would be sold at literary themed bars and restaurants such as The Dead Poet and stocked in stores.
First, my brewery needed a good, solid name. My brewery would ideally be creating many beer series and not all would be related to literature. I settled on Old Inkwell Artisan Brewers because it loosely connects with the Aleing Authors beer series but could also stand alone as its own entity. This was important for any future pieces I wanted to create that would only have the brewery name and not include the beer series.
I knew I wanted a hand drawn logo stylistically similar to a woodcut or etching. I love hand-drawn type, and I also studied many examples of antique woodcut letters and signs as inspiration. I also looked at many brewery logos and noted that most of them were circular and fit nicely wrapped around the neck of a bottle or printed on the cap. I wanted to follow this tradition and began sketching ideas. I choose to place the name in a waving banner similar to many antique posters I saw from the turn of the 19th century.
I decided relatively quickly on Aleing Authors as the title for the beer series. I loved the play on words and the fact that the authors I chose were suffering in their own ways. Now, I needed to choose my specific authors and name their unique beer flavors. I connected the style of beer, the name and specific ingredients to the authors and their literary works. I also incorporated imagery from their famous novels on the labels as well as appropriate quotes.
Virginia Woolf was an English writer, regarded as one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the twentieth century. She uses the literary device stream of consciousness in her narratives. This device depicts the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind. As a play on words, I decided to call this English pale ale Stream of Unconsciousness. Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse is also referenced.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was an American author whose works reflect the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Known to be a big fan of gin, Fitzgerald’s drink is a juniper infused wheat beer called Double Vision. This is play on the double vision Fitzgerald experienced in his own life. He had the ability to experience the lifestyle of the wealthy from an insider’s perspective, yet never felt a part of this clique and always felt the outsider.
Oscar Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights. His drink is an absinthe pilsner called The Pilsner of Dorian Gray. He is notorious for his excessive drinking of absinthe.
Mary Shelley was an English Romantic novelist and short story writer best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. I chose a caffeinated old ale to reference the electrical experiments used in galvanism and the title Galvanized Grog.
Edgar Allen Poe was an American author and poet considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story. His drink, a New England dark ale alludes to his Bostonian heritage and life in Baltimore. Once Upon a Midnight Draught references the first line in his poem, The Raven.
Earnest Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction. He reacted against the elaborate style of 19th century writers by creating a style in which meaning is established through dialogue and very little is stated explicitly. He often depicts scenes of war and popularized the term the lost generation. His beer Anis del Toro lager is a direct reference to Hills like White Elephants in which the characters are drinking a Spanish beer of the same name. The title of my beer The Old Man and the Swill is a play off of his novel, The Old Man and the Sea.
One of my major concerns was balancing the old with the new. I wanted my beer to have a nostalgic feel to it, yet interest a contemporary audience. I wanted my portraits to bridge this gap by illustrating them in a graphic novel fashion. I felt like this style energized these long dead authors and primed them for a 21st century audience. I also wanted to pull in new eyes that may be unfamiliar with the authors and their works but would be drawn to the illustrative style.
Over the course of the semester, I learned a ton about these six authors as well as the rich craft beer culture and brewing process. I learned to appreciate the subtleties of a good beer and the appropriate visual language that is needed to create a sense of atmosphere and energize a product. I learned much about hierarchy and activating the space on the front of the bottle to create a dynamic composition. I feel like I want to further explore the field of package design because it offers so many unique and exciting opportunities.