Hot Label Trends at Craft Brewers Conference 2014


Four days and a few beers later, Craft Brewers Conference 2014 has come to a close. After enjoying this conference for over twenty years (oh no, now we’re dating ourselves…), we always seem to come back buzzed-up on where the craft brewing industry is headed (and you better believe – it’s headed in the right direction).

With over 9,000 attendees in Denver this year, we were able to talk labels with many familiar faces and some new. As you can imagine, many ideas and label types were discussed – but a few things seemed to dominate the conversation.

Tactile varnish

If you stopped by our booth (if you didn’t – you missed out 😉 ) you likely saw our array of good lookin’ craft beer labels. So we may be a bit bias… But there was one design that had everyone’s head turning faster than an owl on the prowl. Whooo-who’s label was that? You guessed it – the one with tactile varnish.

This effect is achieved during the labeling process by creating a clear, high-build on certain parts of the label – giving particular artwork or areas on the label a unique visual effect and textured surface. Some choose to go with this varnish for its eye-catching appeal, while others choose it for a more strategic reason – like making their whites and lighter colors more predominant. Whatever the reasoning, it really might be the next best thing since sliced bread, chia-pets, or snuggies. Okay, maybe not the snuggies…

Shrink labels for cans

Those of you that have looked into offering your beer in a can (or those of you who already do) know that ordering mass quantities of aluminum cans can be a can-crushing headache – especially when your quantities vary due to the seasonality and popularity of your beer. And let’s face it… your beer is only growing in popularity, right? J So what’s the easy button here? Two words – shrink labels.

Shrink labels are available in roll-fed and sleeve form. From there they are applied to a can (or bottle) by using a shrinking mechanism. Some mechanisms use heat to shrink the label, but the most effective machines usually involve a steam process (think sauna… oooh ahhhh)– which shrinks the label more consistently across the can. You could also hand-apply with a hairdryer… but we wouldn’t recommend it!

The shrink process does require you to invest up-front in this shrink machine, but it also gives you the opportunity to mass order aluminum cans and later apply the shrink label to the cans when necessary – saving you some major cash. The more money you have, the more beer you can make. And who doesn’t love more beer?!? More on shrink labels here.

Craft (kraft, estate, etc.) paper

It’s a craft beer, so why not use a craft paper? It makes sense! More and more craft brewers are interested in giving their labels a more authentic and old-school look. Craft paper, which is commonly found in the wine industry, can do just that – and it looks great on a beer bottle too!

There are some tricks and tips to consider when wanting to use a craft paper though. Labeling environment is particularly important. Craft paper usually runs better on a dry bottle and without a final rinse involved. Like throwing your cat in the bathtub, thoroughly wet environments are not a craft paper’s friend! Some moisture shouldn’t be an issue though.

You can also garner a craft paper look and feel by adjusting your graphics or white paper usage. For new breweries and those interested in a new look, this is always something to consider. Just give us a shout for more info.

Cheers to another great year at the Craft Brewers Conference! We’re excited to be a part of an industry known for its artistry, flavor and freakishly good brews. If you care to check out any of the label trends we chatted about, feel free to request some free samples. And don’t forget… we’re always looking at innovative ways to make our clients’ labels standout, so don’t hesitate to ask us for more details!