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Shiner is shining

The K. Spoetzl Brewery, which produces the Shiner portfolio of products, is flexing its packaging muscles. In addition to rolling out new packaging that plays up Shiner's specialty beer pedigree, nearly century-old brewing heritage and handcrafted quality, the "little brewery" in Shiner, TX, is celebrating its 96th anniversary by launching Shiner 96, a limited-edition, authentic Märzen-style brew. The commemorative ale is a tribute to the brewery's 96-year history and is reminiscent of the handcrafted specialty beers that first poured out of the brewery in 1909. Shiner 96 marks the countdown to the Spoetzl Brewery's centennial in 2009 and will be the first of five commemorative brews to be released, one each year until 2009.

"It took 96 years for this beer to happen," says brew master Jimmy Mauric. "Shiner 96 honors our nearly century-long brewing heritage and our ancestors who founded this little brewery. It serves as a 'thank you' to our loyal Shiner patrons. We are proud of our town, our brewery and this special commemorative beer."

The new packaging creates a consistent, more uniform look across the six Shiner specialty beers, including Shiner Bock, Shiner Blonde, Shiner Light, Shiner Hefeweizen, Shiner Kölsch (formerly Shiner Summer Stock®) and Shiner Dunkelweizen (formerly Shiner Winter Ale). The new design is integral to the brand's maintaining its small-town roots, independent personality and place in American beer culture. Since 1909, Shiner has been brewing beer in small batches with great pride and doing its own thing with a self-assured indifference to industry trends. That independent spirit has resonated with such high-profile fans as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong, and the beer is served on Air Force One.

"Shiner's new packaging launch represents a significant portion of our 2005 marketing investment," says Shamus Hanlon, brand group director of marketing for The Gambrinus Company, which purchased the K. Spoetzl Brewery in 1989. "It's also being backed by an aggressive advertising campaign and point of sale support that includes case cards, banners, neck hangers, posters and pole toppers to name a few of the available displays."

Designed by the Chicago firm Tom, Dick & Harry Advertising (www.tdhadvertising.com) , Chicago, Shiner's new packaging gives the product line a consistent look. It includes bottle labels, secondary packaging, including 6- and 12-pack carriers, cases and trays. "There is a lot of Shiner equity in their beers, and we didn't want to change that heritage. We took the existing elements from each brew and created a consistent look," says David Yang, one of the creative partners at the agency.

The new layout includes such design elements as brand name, style of beer, product icons, Shiner brewing credentials, brewery heritage and appetite appeal. Each style in the portfolio is marked by a distinctive color to create a billboard effect at retail outlets. The K. Spoetzl Brewery is highlighted on all neck labels as a tribute to 96 years of brewing tradition, while front and neck labels replicate the facade of the brewery. Brand logos are displayed in angular fashion to add visual energy, and labels for individual beers illustrate unique iconography such as the Shiner Bock ram head (a traditional German image for Bock-style beers), the original brew kettle, some of the brewery's architectural elements, the Texas horned toad and Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge, which is home to thousands of Mexican free-tail bats.

The Bavarian-style Shiner 96 ale is hand-crafted in small batches and is served up in packaging reminiscent of the Spoetzl Brewery's early days. The packaging design features Shiner's traditional "cotton ball" logo that dates back to the early 1900s when a cotton mill once occupied the land adjacent to the brewery. The neck label features a photo of the original Shiner Brewing Association from 1909, and the back label tells the story of the "little brewery" in Shiner and its German roots.

Labels are produced by Inland Label and Marketing Services , La Crosse, WI. The labels for the Kolsh, Light, Blonde, Hefeweizen and Dunkelweizen are litho-printed in four-color process on a full wet-strength C1S white label paper and are finished with an overall aqueous coating. Labels for Shiner 96 are litho-printed on 60-lb uncoated paper, while the labels for the 12-oz Shiner Bock beer are gravure-printed with six spot colors. Carriers are printed and supplied by MeadWestvaco Corp. (www.meadwestvaco.com) , bottles by O-I (www.o-i.com) and crowns and cans by Crown Beverage Packaging USA (www.crowncork.com) .

Because the cans are printed at extremely high speeds (1,800 to 2,200/min) and the colors are laid down one at a time, with milliseconds between passes, Crown recommended 0.003 in. be inserted between colors to prevent bleeding. This minute adjustment ensured design consistency and quality on all of Spoetzl's cans.

Shiner beer is available in 35 states. Six-packs sell for $6.99, while 12-packs sell for $10.99 to $11.99. Shiner 96 is available in 6-packs as well as a special 24-bottle case, housed in a limited-edition wooden crate that contains a commemorative booklet showcasing photos and the unique history of the Spoetzl Brewery and the Shiner brand. It sells for $29.99.

More information is available:
Crown Beverage Packaging USA, 765/362-3200 (crowns); 215/698-5100 (cans). www.crowncork.com.
Inland Label and Marketing Services, 608/788-5800.
MeadWestvaco Corp., 203/461-7400. www.meadwestvaco.com.
O-I, 419/247-5000. www.o-i.com.
Tom, Dick & Harry Advertising, 773/665-1485. www.tdhadvertising.com.
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