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Beer Identity: Flying Dog Dead Rise

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

Flying Dog has arguably the most original and eye-catching branding for their beers out there. All of their packaging, labels, and their logo are designed by world famous illustrator, Ralph Steadman. Steadman is well renowned for his work with journalist and author, Hunter S. Thompson, but his work with the Flying Dog brand is becoming a close second.

The Maryland based brewery produces a wide variety of beers, and each one features an outrageous and incredibly distinct label. I think it’s safe to say that there are few beer brands with more shelf-appeal than these colorful, nightmarish 6-packs.

Choosing The Beer

The bright and aggressive colors jump off of the box and practically punch you in the face. The huge, terrifying image of a crab caught my eye immediately when walking down the beer aisle.

When I saw that Dead Rise was brewed with Old Bay seasoning, I was very skeptical of this strange new ingredient. I thought, “Do I really want to drink a beer that tastes like a crab boil?”

Flying Dog describes Dead Rise as being “brewed to highlight the indelible, bold character of OLD BAY with citrus hop notes and a crisp, tart finish.”

Sometimes one of the best ways to grab a potential customer’s attention is by providing something so outrageous, so different, that not trying it would seem like a missed opportunity.

The combination of Flying Dog’s distinctive artwork and this new, and frankly, incredibly strange new beer made this a no-brainer.

This was something different. I had to try it.


The Label

The label is essentially identical to the 6-pack, but (obviously) much more condensed. The bright colors, ink splatters, and unmistakable typography work wonders yet again.

Flying Dog embraces the individuality of their beers over focusing heavily on their own brand, which is something I always admire. It takes guts and restraint to make the product the star of the show instead of yourself.

Flying Dog could have easily opted to make their logo very large and prominent on the main label, but that would have taken away from everything that makes this design so special.

Instead, their logo is placed on a small neck label. The logo is there. You can identify who made the beer. It’s just taking a back seat to the real star of the show, the beer itself.



I think it’s pretty apparent in reading this how pleased I am with this beer.

It’s hard to dislike anything that Ralph Steadman draws, and having one the world’s most recognizable illustrators designing every single beer label is an edge that no other brewery can boast.

And I know what you’re all wondering, “Tommy, did this beer *actually* taste like crab?”

Not at all. It was a wonderful summer ale. Light and refreshing, and the Old Bay seasoning only adds a very light, spicy aftertaste. Very different from traditional summer ales that flood the shelves each summer. If you’re having a cookout this summer, or are enjoying a few beers outside in the sun, Dead Rise is an excellent choice. [untappd]

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