creative inspiration: beer design

3 selections

this week, i’ve collected 3 examples of awesome illustration styles in beer design. the first one, above is for wahoo brewing in texas. their blog is a nice tribute to craft beer.


these labels for aspen brewing company in colorado are a fun tribute to vintage national park posters. the highlights of their collateral is featured here.


finally, the illustration-forward packaging for R&B brewing in vancouver has been making the rounds, each brew with a themed container full of hand-drawn type. these pieces are new and not entirely integrated on their site as of this posting, but see the collection here.

thanks to for these great design profiles!

a map of america’s breweries

breweries of the united states
breweries of the united states

in celebration of independence day, i give you a map of america’s breweries, some of which i hope you’re drinking today, if you imbibe, that is. cheers!

creative inspiration


on the heels of this past weekend’s dwell show, we’re talking about my hometown of LA today, namely how they took eight of 10 of the restaurant design awards. use kcet’s wrap up as your destination list and start experiencing these places firsthand!


i first heard about greenbar collective while working with mohawk bend, the managers of which were very excited to add them to their bar menu. greenbar collective is a distillery based in LA’s clean tech corridor downtown, producing organic infusions and liqueurs. in addition to their philosophy and production chain, i’m also a fan of their label design. check out alissa walker’s story about greenbar’s history for kcet: a boozy peek at the future of LA food.

also, as we take a turn into grilling season, if you’re looking to add something special to the cooler without buying pre-packaged drinks, mix-up your own recipes and ice them in mason jars. great idea!

LA river greenway
it took a lot of work and involvement from the community, but the LA river greenway was recently designated a national recreation trail. if you haven’t been down to visit the newer pocket parks or ride the greenway, i highly encourage it! explore on your own, or use this piece i wrote for LAist to find the parks and some of the backyard chickens along the way!

ro and cordials

RoAndCordials from RoAndCo Studio on Vimeo.

HOW CUTE is this promo video for design studio Ro and Co’s holiday party, with their beautifully-designed cordial packaging? thanks to <a href=" for the link.

paso robles, march 2012

rolling hills outside graveyard winery
rolling hills outside graveyard winery

2 weekends ago, i took a weekend trip to paso robles, driving up with 1 girlfriend and meeting the other at our half-way point from her new digs in san francisco. we’re all wine-lovers and we take our wine tasting semi-seriously, in that we will go the extra mile to taste whatever we can, though we’ll informally chat and joke throughout the entire thing. i’d say it’s a professional attitude, though only insomuch as we’re there at opening and closing and treat it as our job to take every advantage of being in wine country. we’re committed: a comment about our dedication and sanity.

wisteria & bees at beckmen vineyards
wisteria & bees at beckmen vineyards

kari and i started out by tasting our way through santa ynez and santa maria, including our first visit to roblar winery, a repeat visit to beckmen and a spin through los olivos for lunch and an obligatory visit to global gardens, purveyors of exquisite olive and nut oils, among other condiments and preserves. we continued up foxen canyon road to try out kohler, foxen, and cambria on our way back to the 101. it’s so nice to have the freedom to continue north rather than speculate about when to turn back towards home.

goats at kenneth volk / lone madrone
goats at kenneth volk / lone madrone

the leslie-heather-kari triumvirate started their saturday on highway 46. i can’t even remember all the places we visited, but zenaida cellars, kenneth volk, lone madrone, cypher, peachy canyon were all part of the journey. how do we taste all that wine? we often split tastings so we can taste more and drink less [we are not spitters, apologies to the real professionals]. the property of kenneth volk and lone madrone had pens with animals out front, including these cute little goats, as well as some chickens and rabbits. i love visiting all the cute animals.

graveyard winery cemetery
graveyard winery cemetery

on our departing day, kari and i made the most of our tasting possiblities and decided to explore a part of paso we’ve never been to, up estrella road to the north. we found the fantastic and hidden graveyard winery, which has an actual cemetery of a few families with fascinating and endearing headstones. their wines were delicious and alive, and the owners who did the pouring and hospitality were wonderful to talk to. we found the landscape breathtaking [the top photo is right outside their tasting room], and noticed a wood pile for the fireplace, containing chopped logs and twisty dry trimmed grape vines. i decided to take a few small pieces to see how they smoke up on the barbecue.

silver horse winery
silver horse winery

we continued up to silver horse, which is host to tasting for a few wineries. the long-predicted rain for the weekend rolled in as we watched through giant picture-windows. the other patrons of this tasting room were chatty and made it a really nice end to our weekend. eventually though, we had to get back on the road and get home. timing worked it out so we could have dinner at the madonna inn, which was a fun time adorned in pink & copper.

overall i was really impressed with all the exciting white wines i tasted. i picked up some varietals and some blends, all of them really zingy and floral. i also bought more dessert wines than usual, because the late harvests have really grown on me [or maybe i was encouraged by kari, who is a big fan]. i did get 2 red wines, despite my voracious foray into loving white wine of late, an absolutely delicious syrah from beckmen, and this really bright, floral, stainless-steel-fermented zinfandel from lone madrone called zin of steel, which led to lots of devo singing.

for now, the wine is in the wine fridge. i’m afraid to dig into it, but will soon enough. so exciting!

creative inspiration

Micro Macro from Encyclopedia Pictura on Vimeo.

super-cute explanation of the universe done in food! i especially like the polar caps in shredded mozzarella.


rebranding teachers
rebranding teachers, image: hyperakt

a beautiful rebranding of teachers by hyperakt re-imagines the inspiration of education and applies it to just about every civic touchpoint conceivable. great work!


cuppow, image:

i saw this innovative item on 3 blogs in one week, and it first caught my eye for the retro-style packaging. however, i have several friends who have given up on the travel bottle craze and gone luddite, preferring to cart their beverages around in mason jars with canning lids. i think this is great, except for my desire to frequently sip. then i saw this cuppow thing and love that it makes a sippy cup out of jars. now the question is, can i get it in glass instead of any type of plastic [though i see it’s bpa-free and recyclable]. see the writeup and video at

event calendar: november 28 – december 4, 2011

826LA bookmaking workshop
826LA bookmaking workshop

it’s hard to believe we’re actually moving into december already! this week, i’m really looking forward to this bookmaking for adults at 826LA, followed by the first colLAboration event on site at golden road brewery, followed yet still by a holiday open house & sale at peter shire studio. maybe after all that, i’ll need the sunday sound bath at yogala!

if you’re all jazzed about cyber monday, there are things you can click on and buy in this store right here.

Case Study: A Modest Makeover for Tony’s Darts Away

tony's darts away web site

We recently gave Tony’s Darts Away a little makeover online and wanted to share it with you. If you’re familiar with the All Craft, All Draught, All California bar in Burbank, you know they’ve been making a name for themselves as celebrationists of some of the finest California craft beer. Before we even got involved, LA weekly cited their site in a top 5 of LA restaurants others could learn from, so we wanted to keep it as accessible and informative as it’s always been, with more muscle on the back end and make it more easily expandable as their web presence grows. Their contact info & hours are built into every page, their site pages have been sorted into simple main categories, and we’re porting tweets into a sidebar so they can announce events and late keg tappings after opening.

tony's darts away, interactive beer list

Similar to what we did for Mohawk Bend, we gave Tony’s Darts Away an interactive beer list to make browsing, searching and sorting easy. On the back end, this list is easy for employees to manage and update, so the menu stays updated all the time.

tony's darts away, beer styles library

Something unique that has garnered this site some attention is the beer styles library where visitors can research and read tasting notes and anecdotes on all kinds of craft beer styles they might encounter at Tony’s and beyond. Click a style in the sidebar and the text loads in the center. We also set up the brewers list the same way, so if you’re curious who’s who and what’s what, take a look!

Finally, we did some streamlining to their menu workflow, to integrate menu layouts that allow for styled updates they can print as needed and then paste right into wordpress. The main idea here is, we want to make it easy for them to get done with setup and serve us all some beer, which is exactly what will happen if you drop into Tony’s. Visit the full site:

+ Read more case studies here.
+ See more of our work for tony’s pubs.

Case Study: Mohawk Bend Brand & Identity Development

mohawk bend brand & identity

As the saying goes, I love it when a plan comes together. When I first talked to Tony Yanow about his newest venture, Mohawk Bend, it was nearly a year ago, midway through the Ramona Theater’s renovation process. While we’d be working from scratch design-wise, Tony had a very clear idea of who he was serving and what the attitude and voice of Mohawk Bend would be, which made the preliminary research and brand brief development really easy. He also had an interior design team working with the raw materials of the space and adding beautiful custom furniture in light wood and warm, orange tones. From the outset, we knew the setting of where the identity would live and how we could make it stand out appropriately within that environment.

mohawk bend logo

logo development

Mohawk Bend has a few different areas of focus, but it’s first and foremost a celebration of craft beer from all over California. The most exciting and innovative of these is the hops-forward west coast IPA, and in that vein, the hop flower became a main feature of the logo.

mohawk bend icon system

mohawk bend business cards

building an identity

Beyond beer, though, their plans included California-sourced spirits, a bottle-free selection of California wine, local / organic food that spans the vegan-omnivore spectrum, and a low-waste operation in the kitchen. Tony really wanted an icon system that could represent each of these aspects and work interchangeably with the main identity, play out on the web site, and associate with core staff’s areas of expertise. We developed a color palette and selection of icons that swap out with the hop flower in the logo for specialized uses, and become indicators for each area of the web site. For future signage and events, they’ll have the versatility of growing this icon system with new developments.

mohawk bend web site home page

keeping it simple & highly useful online

Creating the web site was a fun exercise in brainstorming all the things we hate about restaurant web sites and putting them at the top of the list of what not to do. No flash, No pdf menus, No hard-to-find location information. Tony was always very clear about the voice of Mohawk Bend, that it’s craft first in a simple and honest way. We were still excited to talk about all the great things Mohawk Bend does, however, so we built all of it into the about section, so the information is there without being an obstacle on the home page. Instead, a styled twitter widget announces daily specials and events, with clear postings of hours, location, directions and a list of menus: get the info you need and come on over!

mohawk bend web site interactive beer list

the interactive beer list

One particularly fun feature is the interactive beer list. During our preliminary talks on functionality of the site, Tony said “What I’d really like to have is a beer list you can sort by any category—brewery, style, alcohol volume…” And so we thought about it, and worked out a solution that integrates directly with WordPress, allowing all the searching & sorting a curious beerophile would want. Click any column header to sort by that column, or use the search field to isolate beers containing your search terms. We also translated everything to a nice mobile site, so anyone can find just what they’re looking for [even search the beer list] on the go.

mohawk bend menus

beyond design: a workflow that works

Behind the scenes was the real challenge: developing a workflow system that would allow daily menu updates in print and online to be done easily and quickly by employees. A system that still uses nice typefaces and formatting in print, but doesn’t require any coding online—and all simple enough to execute well without a design education. Once we settled on a menu format, we built in-house layout templates using paragraph styles that would transfer heading tags and basic bold and italic formatting to WordPress. The WordPress interface is extremely user-friendly, with a visual editor, so everyone has taken to it quickly. To keep the carbon footprint low, the menus are printed on Neenah Environment 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper.

mohawk bend extended identity

and they’re off…!

As I’ve watched this roll out in action and seen the Mohawk Bend staff make it their own, I’m proud of the system we created together. They’ve been able to switch around the menu formats easily using feedback from customers, and we’ve been able to build more of the identity into ads, stickers, signage and support collateral. Best of all, they are all super-nice people to work with, so we’re always happy to walk down, have a beer, find out how everything is going, and help them work out their next adventure. Bottoms-up to Mohawk Bend!

+ Read more case studies here.
+ See more of our work for Mohawk Bend here.