A Guide For Making Beer Labels
Beer labels are a collectible keepsake from a great bottle of beer. They serve as a memento of a great time in a great place. Many brands are known for their catchy and clever labels. Labels serve to build a brand, but also are a great gift for any beer lover. There are many options for custom beer label gifts, but more on that later.
Beer bottle labels are second to the beers taste in identifying its identity. For example, Pabst Blue Ribbon was called Pabst Select before it won a beer award at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The blue ribbon denotes the award that it won, and from 1893 to 1916 each bottle of PBR wore a blue ribbon around its neck. After 1916 they realized that it would be much cheaper to incorporate the blue ribbon into the label design. From this, the PBR label that we know today was born. A wise man once said, "Branding is everything, and everything is branding." Pabst saw the opportunity to build it's brand around an award that they won, and it evolved into a household name.
You may not take your homebrew as serious as Pabst does, but there are many things to learn from what they did. Consider who will be drinking your beer. If it's just you and your buddies, put whatever you like on the label. If you plan on expanding past that you must consider brand images and legal factors on your custom beer labels. Picture your ideal customer and build your image to appeal to him/her. If you are trying to target current wine drinkers, design a label that represents class and status. Or if you are targeting young microbrew drinkers, have beer labels with something loud and eye-catching (think Arrogant Bastard and Lagunitas).
Lagunitas Beer Label
Beer Labels as Gifts
Making beer labels to celebrate a special occasion is a great way of showing you care. It could be as easy as printing beer labels and putting them on the type of beer that person likes (which is extremely illegal if you plan on selling the beer). A simple google search will put you in touch with many companies that specialize in customized beer bottle labels if your own design and printing skills aren't bottle caliber.
They make the perfect gift for a bachelor party or the birth of a child (or really any time that you're going to celebrate with beer!). Anyone can bring a case of beer, but only few are going to make the person feel special with their own custom designed beer labels!
Beer Making Books on Amazon.com
Beer Label Regulations
In the United States there are many laws and regulations regarding what has to be on the beer label and how it is to be presented if the beer is to be sold. Before you have to worry about labeling, you must be come a "brewer" and get a Brewer's Notice from the ATF. Having this permit to operate allows you to create beer in your brewery for sale. Once you have that established, it's time to start looking at what the law says has to be on your labels.
Rather than bore you with the minute details of the law, we'll take an overhead perspective on beer label design. Before you can know what to put on your label, you have to be clear about whether you are making beer or malt beverages. Beer is created from hops and malt beverages are created by everything else (usually in a concentrated then reconstituted form). For beer, the labeling process is much simpler than malt beverages. There is no need to print the alcoholic content (unless you wish to). The things that are required on the labels is volume (net ounces), location of the brewery, name of the company, the health warning statement, and the type of beer (IPA, stout, etc.). The manner that volume is reported varies by the size of the container, but for regular beer bottles it is reported in fluid ounces or pints and ounces.
For more information on font sizes and color contrast read the ATF's guide on labeling. Be sure to brew a pot of coffee before diving into those articles! This is why I summed up the bulk of it for you!
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