A myriad of beer can designs enter the beer market yearly, yet few are as unique and inspired as a recent shrink-sleeve label from Lazarus Brewing in Austin, TX.
It started with a unique beer recipe. The brewer’s managers were developing a Mexican-inspired brew featuring Tepache, a traditional fermented pineapple beverage.
Needing a name, identity, narrative, and a fresh look, they turned to DWS Printing & Packaging.
The product was named Milagrito, which means “little miracle.”
DWS developed a complete brand identity inspired by folk art and spiritual iconography, partnering with Mexican artists to helm the illustration and design. As a finishing touch to the packaging design, DWS used a “Cast & Cure” technique to mimic a stunning stained-glass window at the brewery.
The result, according to Andy Staib, owner and CEO, DWS, gave the sleeved cans of Milagrito a “super-trippy 3D effect.”
The brewer concurs — a Lazarus Brewing spokesperson informs us that the partnership with DWS “created a truly breathtaking anniversary release for our brewery. The team at DWS was refreshing to work with from concept to finish on this project. The Cast & Cure finish provided us a unique, 3D holographic print design which our customers really love. Their print and packaging teams allow our cans to stand out from the crowd!”
Cast & Cure is described by Staib as a relatively new finishing technique.
“We came across that in our relationship with our primary coating vendor,” he explains. “The 3D-effect of our Cast & Cure takes the finished sleeved can to an entirely new level of unique, eye-catching branding on shelf. The technique involves careful application of the C&C coating on press and during sleeving. This ensures that the finished product maintains the holographic effect through both the print process and steam-tunnel shrinking of the sleeves in our Austin, TX, production facility.”
The project was initiated in August of 2020 and included a complete naming exploration, brand identity, custom illustrations, creative design, storyline along with shrink-sleeve printing and label application.
Staib credits Patrice Lighter and Joe Accardi with Big in Japan NYC as a creative team they partnered with who managed the design.
“The entire creation of the brand and production of finished sleeved-cans took approximately 120 days,” Staib says. “The beer was released in Q1 of 2021.”
On the technical side, the label stock is a Klöckner Pentaplast 45-micron PETG shrink film printed on DWS’s hybrid digital/flexographic press — a Domino digital printing system paired with an MPS flexo press.
“It was a four-color process plus spot white and the C&C overcoat,” Staib adds.
The initial, limited-run roll-out comprised approximately 3,000 16-ounce sleeved cans.
Not only was it a success in the market, we learned that it drew “exceptionally high interest taking place at the 2021 and 2022 Craft Brewers Conferences in Denver and Minneapolis, respectively.”
Staib calls the effort a “labor of love of sorts. Although we initially expected to execute the project in less time, we took the extra time to ensure that the finished product and promotional mailers were as unique and beautiful as the artwork. We’re glad we did because the result was our ‘little miracle’.”