My Session: Beer label, coaster and cap art.

I started collecting labels when my homebrewing hobby kicked into high gear some fifteen years ago.  Before I could reuse the bottles they had to be cleaned, of course, and I found that many times the labels would float to the top while the bottles soaked.  At some point I started putting those labels in protector sheets and ranking/reviewing the beers for future reference.  It was a nice record of what I had tasted over the years and at the last count I had nearly 500 labels.  Then I started keeping track of my beers in a digital format, starting with a Palm Pilot and now on my iPhone. Keeping a digital beer journal and kegging has certainly reduced the amount of  label clutter and effectively killed my label collection but it hasn’t had any impact on my reaction to an awesome label. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to judging a book by its cover but while I was searching through my stash of labels I found it interesting that I can’t separate the beer from the label.  I may have thought the label was cool but if the beer didn’t hold up its end of the hype then that somehow diminished the label art for me.

My label example comes from the Odell Brewing Company. Myrcenary is a wonderful Double IPA which is one of the reasons it made the cut but  also this label speaks to my inner artist and illustrator.  I love the color palate with the bright yellow drawing our eye to the side car.  The bags of hops that are tied down but  still loosing some of their contents adds a sense of speed to this journey. The illustration captures a magical moment in this journey but the scene leaves me with more questions than answers.  Where are you going with all those hops?  Why are you going so fast, is it an emergency?  Is that a magical Hagrid-style motorcycle?


Odell's Mercenary

My coaster sample seems fairly plain after that magical Odell label but this beer was no less magical to me.   What I found interesting about my coasters (I sifted through a hundred or so) is that I couldn’t separate the coaster from the drinking experience in much the same way I couldn’t separate the label from it’s beer.  I picked this coaster because of the experience it represents.  Chimay was my first Trappiste beer experience and for a long time the only Trappiste beer I could find. During a trip to Belgium I had the opportunity to visit Chimay and its Abbaye de Scourmont.  After a reflective tour of the abbaye we drove into town where we found a small bar and enjoyed the abbaye’s cheese and beer.  This coaster came off the table, of course, complete with someone else’s beer stains.


Chimay coaster

My beer fridge/kegerator is decorated with close to a hundred caps and this cap holds a place of respect, well a place that is far enough up so the kids don’t pull it off and loose it. I picked this cap not because the beer was great -it was good but IMHO not the best in the world – but also because I found it interesting that I can separate the cap from the beer.  I also picked this cap because it is also the label and (at the time) it is the only way you can tell which Westy beer you were about to open. Also, I picked this cap because it is somewhat a badge of honor.  Yes, indeed I had the pleasure of drinking the #1 rated (at the time) beer in the world.


Westvleteren Cap

  1. the Myrcenary label is a great one. Most brewers are not keen enough to let the artists do what they want to do. I’m writing about logo design at

  2. I almost forgot to check to see what you posted today. I just obtained a Westy cap. After a rather big tasting, someone busted out a couple of bottles to share. I was three sheets and could only taste a little, but I walked out with a cap.

  3. Any chance of a picture of your cap covered kegerator?

    • I will be posting a picture soon. It is a mess right now because I had to search for my fav. but I will get one up ASAP.

  4. Oh and by the way, Your facebook link is actually your twitter link.

    • Thanks for proofing my page, Yikes!

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