The rapidly growing industry of craft beer-brewing has given rise to a new art form and a group of interesting artists with it. Beer branding has taken a turn to the poetic, edgy, funny, irreverent or romantic and across the US, creative label designs and unusual titles have taken hold. Customers seem to simply drink them up, literally.
Many of the craft brewers in the The Leader’s area are producing remarkably creative beers, and their branding and labeling reflect it. Town in City Brewing Company, located at 1125 W. Cavalcade, is a great example.
Founder Steven Macalello has a BS in Chemistry and learned the craft of brewing in Colorado, Indiana and Australia. It was time well-spent, as the products are splendid examples of a hand-crafted flavor. Today, Macalello declares that “brewing beer is the best form of chemistry.”
And the name Town in City Brewing?
“We love our neighborhood,” Macalello said. “We don’t just work here, we live here too. Many years ago, the Heights was known as the ‘small town in the big city,’ so we decided to name our company in honor of Houston’s first official suburb.”
The team at Town in City maintains that theme with a series of three different brews. One series honoring the city, the next immediate community, and then there is a rural series, which they identify as “farm-to-market brews.” These have not yet been released to the public. However, the labels in each of the existing series are works of art.
The artist behind the label designs is Heights resident Hugo Perez. Perez has an extensive background in both graphic design and fine arts, and it shows in his Town in City work.
Perez’s City Series labels are inspired by the history of Houston.
“The same old images of the city you might see from 100 years ago shot in black and white,” Perez stated.
They are both vintage and somehow modern and sophisticated at the same time.
The artist’s Suburb Community Series uses a more colorful palette and takes a playful approach with pleasing, character-driven graphics.
“The founders of Town in City had already named these beers when they asked me to design the labels. It was great creating the characters and images in that series. We all had fun with them and I think it shows,” Perez said.
One brew in the Suburb Series is called “Chipped Tooth IPA,” and the other is named with the state bird of Texas – the mosquito – in mind. “Mosquito’s Revenge” is a malt pale ale made with three different American hops which gives it a wonderful aroma, hence attracting mosquitoes.
Artist Perez, however, has more up his sleeve than beer. He is also involved in a national project to help bring visibility to the oppression suffered by the LBGT community. Working with photo artist Eric Shell, the two artists are traveling the US with Perez’s hand-painted backdrops taking photos of notable folks working toward LGBT equality. It is stunning, and can be seen at www.prideportraits.org.
Brash Brewing Company, located at 508 Crosstimbers Rd., is another good example of creative labeling. Founder Ben Fullelove explained that the design and titles of the labels are created in a collaborative effort of the Brash team.
“I start with a concept and our artist Richard Bailey brings it to life,” Fullelove said. “I’ve known him since we were both 15, so we understand each other. Most of the labels are full of hidden symbols and icons that entertain. Our patrons really enjoy them.”
According to Fullelove, Brash’s branding objectives are to celebrate originality and authenticity, like Brash beers themselves, he says. The designs are irreverent, sometimes politically incorrect, and usually Brash.
There is no shortage of talent or creativity in Houston’s brewing scene and the artists who help bring the the brands to life.