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Beer Identity: Stone Ruination

Beer Identity is a series where I share my opinions on the overall graphic design of a beer’s packaging and branding. I discuss the overall brand of the brewery, the design of the packaging, the label design, and what led me to pick this particular beer off the shelf in the first place. All of the photos in this post were taken by me, with the beer I grabbed off the shelf. I welcome any comments, agreement, and criticism on twitter at @AirshipDesignCo. Cheers!

The Brand

Stone is well known for brewing beer of an insanely high quality, so it should come as no surprise that Stone is one of the fastest growing breweries in the country. Well known for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, Stone has a very distinctive brand that does not change much from bottle to bottle.

The Stone gargoyle is very distinctive and unique, but is too busy to work at small sizes. (Something that absolutely must be considered when designing for beer bottles.) To get around this, Stone uses just the gargoyle’s head on their bottle caps and in small usage situations. I don’t see a reason why Stone doesn’t just opt to use the gargoyle’s head as their only logo mark. It still captures all of the strength and personality of the full mark, but is much more simplistic and clear.

The typeface in the logo is based on a Roman stone-carved style, which fits with the name of the brewery, but I’m unsure how it fits with the personality of the brand. I was unable to find Stone’s mission statement or any sort of explanation of what their goals and personality are in their own words. From what I can see, they seem to favor a tough, “no fuss” attitude and an ornate stonework typeface doesn’t seem like the best fit with the personality they project.

Choosing the Beer

Stone has revamped their recipe for Ruination and it is now a double IPA, so new packaging has come along as well.

Beer packaging design isn’t exactly known for it’s restraint or simplicity, but this 6-pack from Stone is about as minimal as you can get while still managing to pack a ton of character into the design.

Surprisingly, there are not many beer designs that use black packaging. Paired with bright yellow typography, this package caught my eye almost immediately. This has to be some of the best custom typography I’ve ever seen on beer packaging. I’m such a sucker for good typography. I couldn’t help myself. It’s sharp, edgy, and pairs well with the gargoyle illustration.

The gargoyle is a substantially cleaned up version of the one in Stone’s logo. It’s menacing, well illustrated, and it doesn’t compete with the typography. An all-around great contribution to the overall design.

StoneRuination-6pack

The Label

The label design carries over the gargoyle/typography from the side of the six pack design and it works wonderfully on the label as well. The neck label and cap feature the gargoyle’s head that I’m very fond of and is a nice way to reinforce the brand.

All of Stone’s labels feature their gargoyle very prominently with each variety of beer having a unique color to identify it from the rest. Ruination 2.0 is the first beer of Stone’s to get an upgrade aesthetically in a while. The labels seem to be going through a transitional period right now. Some of their seasonal selections have completely new designs that don’t quite fit with their year-round selection (in a good way.) I can’t wait to see what other kinds of changes we see from Stone design-wise in the future.

StoneRuination-Bottle

Overall

Stone Brewing has already achieved massive success in the beer world, and they are on the cusp of greatness in the beer design world as well. They are taking steps in the right direction to improve their aesthetic where they can, and if they take a few more leaps like they have with Ruination 2.0 they will have some of the best packaging out there.

Ruination 2.0 is a hop explosion. Your palette will be absolutely wrecked when you drink this beer. It is incredibly bitter and has notes of peaches, citrus, and pine. So if you’re a hop masochist like me, Ruination 2.0 will easily be one of your favorite beers. [untappd]

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