Besides cool weather, playoff baseball, football and colorful leaves, fall also brings a full-on display of seasonal packaging to beer aisles.
Fall is my favorite season, with cooler weather, football and those oh-so-amazing tree colors. It’s also a time for Octoberfest and a related slew of seasonal offerings from brewers large and small. With that in mind, we paid a visit to two chains, one a local outlet of Binny’s Beverage Depot, a chain of 30 superstores in the Chicago area that boasts a wide selection of beverages of all types, and the other a Hy-Vee Store in eastern Iowa. Our tour of the beer aisles uncovered these notable packages among the visual highlights that say “fall is here” using appropriate colors, copy and packaging design cues like yellow leaves and orange pumpkins.
First and center of target in this seasonal market is Octoberfest itself, an annual celebration that originated in Germany. The 16-day festival that starts in mid or late September and runs through the first weekend in October. A large number of packaged brews played on that theme, starting with this brew from Oktoberfest’s home turf, Warsteiner. The classy, atypical color scheme uses a gold and blue diamond pattern on bottle, carton and case packaging design that stands out among the brews we sampled visually.
Fall assortment packs are, of course, all the rage. For example, Samuel Adams provides a more conventional approach in a multiflavor Fall Variety Pack printed in autumnal oranges and yellows along with a Sam Adams blue. The 2015 pack includes a new style, Hoppy Red, alongside Samuel Adams stalwarts such as Boston Lager, Harvest Pumpkin Ale and, of course, OctoberFest.
Another sampler pack is represented by Traveler Beer Co.’s Burlington, VT, Fall Expedition bottled 12-pack of flavored shandies that uses strong fall colors to cue the trio of varieties in graphic representation, only one of which is actually autumnal: A lemon, a pumpkin and an orange. Another distinction is that the pack uses an unusual asymmetric product count in a bow to the season: 6 of the pumpkin and three each of the others.
If we can add a bit of a seasonal throwback: The Huffington Post recently named Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy as the best summer shandy.
Speaking of shandies: Harvest Patch from Leinie’s offers a whole new angle on multipacks…
Indicative of packs of single-flavored offerings, but with a literally different angle on the multipack concept, is this Harvest Patch Shandy—the latest in an ongoing series of shandies— from Leinenkugel’s of Chippewa Falls, WI. In addition to depicting a nostalgic rural scene printed across the case sides that may appeal most to older drinkers, its most striking feature is the angled case corners. The brand leveraged that corner space, which can be seen from both front and side, to its advantage by promoting the enclosed “Limited Release Twelve 12-oz cans.” The angled corners’ black ink on a gold background provides contrast using a color that implies both fall and premium quality.
A radical kind of Octoberfest brew…
A clenched fist and an Oompah band’s tuba player characterize Revolution Brewing’s fall offering that features the brand’s radical and stylized graphics with an Oktoberfest theme. Another distinguishing point is a 6-can unitizing topper that doubles as a sanitary feature to keep the can tops clean and protected until use.
Next: Sporty kind of packaging…
Brand owners, especially the majors, often align themselves with sports and sporting events. Such is the case for this case of Bud Light, the official beer of the National Football League. This year’s version is sleek, though not as impactful as the beer’s 2013 season packaging, seen here.
However, earlier this month the brand announced it teamed up with Minibar alcohol delivery service to offer its full line of 28 NFL team-specific Bud Light cans to fans in a Manhattan, NY, pilot. The brewer says the pilot is in response to some 3,000 Bud Light fans nationwide who requested the opportunity to purchase their favorite team’s Bud Light packaging wherever they lived.
Another brew that carries a fall sports theme is from Steven’s Point Beer, which tastefully sets six of its brews against an illustrated football field backdrop.
On a more regional note is Hawktober marzen beer from Backpocket Brewing found at a Hy-Vee grocery store in eastern Iowa cleverly and tastefully toasts the season. The brewery is located in Coralville, a suburb of Iowa City, IA, home to the University of Iowa and its Hawkeye sports teams that has a lot of support from those in the eastern part of the state and elsewhere.
Lastly is a darkly spooky offering…
While many of these fall designs are whimsical if not calming, Black O’Lantern Pumpkin Stout from Wasatch Brewery, Park City, UT, distributed at the Iowa Hy-Vee store represents the kind of spookier design scheme used by some brands for differentiation as a way to scare up sales. It worked because it got our attention.
What we liked was the perfectly coined brand name for the dark beer and the corresponding jet-black design scheme that sets off the all a-glow wicked-looking pumpkin. A fitting design element executed by the carton converting is the ragged edge on the carrier 6-pack that closely mimics the saw-cut marks on a carved pumpkin. A colleague wished that they extended that branding to using saw-edge labels on the bottles.
In any event, the overall foreboding atmosphere of the design says this is a seriously different brew fit for the season.
If you spot any Fallfest beer packaging worthy of inclusion, feel free to comment below or send information on your candidate to [email protected].