The Fantastic Art of Beer and Wine Labels


There’s lots of things that I love. I love science fiction and fantasy. I love art, both fine art and commercial art.

And I love beer.

So, when these three things get together it`s a red letter day for me.

I can`t go into a beer and wine store without examining all the labels. Art is everywhere and there is a great range of creativity to be found plastered on the front of the bottle of your favourite beer, wine or other spirits. I love the art associated with beer wine and spirits, sometimes more than the beer or wine itself. The Old Milwaukee pin-up girls come to mind. I can`t stand the beer, but I love the pin-up girls that decorate the cans.

So it is a rare treat to come across a beer or wine label whose art is fantasy or science fiction themed. And there are a number of them out there.

Hobgoblin-Dark-English-AleSome of my favorite beers come from the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, England. The brewery is known for its fantasy-based label artwork, inspired by the myths and legends surrounding the ancient Wychwood Forest.

Hobgoblin is the best-known and most popular beer brewed at Wychwood Brewery and was created by Chris Moss. Jeremy Moss, Wychwood’s head brewer, describes the drink as “full bodied and well balanced with a chocolate toffee malt flavour, moderate bitterness and a distinctive fruity character with a ruby red glow”. It was the first bottled beer in the UK to feature an illustrated label, as opposed to a simple text-based one, and it is currently the 5th best-selling bottled ale in the UK.

Other fantasy inspired beers from Wychwood include Fiddler`s Elbow, King Goblin, Scarecrow, Goliath and Black Wych. Many of these labels were designed by a British commercial and fantasy artist named Bob Venables.

2D274905514361-today-ale-140331-seq4.blocks_desktop_mediumAnother fantasy themed beer comes from Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, New York. This brewery teamed up with HBO to produce a series of beers based on the network`s Game of Thrones Series. Beginning with Iron Throne released in 2013, the brewery has produced five Game of Thrones beers including Take the Black Stout, Fire and Blood, Valar Morghulis and Three Eyed Raven.

kraken-v-cupidBut it`s not only beer and wine. One of my favorite spirits (just for the label, mind, I`ve never yet tasted the product itself) is Kraken Black Spiced Rum. Kraken is a Caribbean 94 proof black rum. It is distributed in the United States by Proximo Spirits, and named after the mythical giant squid-like sea monster.

The bottle is styled after a Victorian rum bottle, with two hoop handles based on the tradition of hanging a bottle to prevent breakages. The bottle also has a black and white label featuring an exquisite drawing of the sea creature doing battle with an armed cherub.

Although I haven`t actually imbibed the product, I do like rum and will sample it when the time is right. That, of course, will be the time when I can order someone to bring it to me by shouting “Release the Kraken!

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