Milton Glaser, he of “I <3 NY,” the New York magazine logo, that famous Bob Dylan illustration, and countless other iconic designs, is also responsible for all of Brooklyn Brewery’s brand identity. So it’s only fitting that the New York Times asked Glaser to critique the labels of several other independent breweries, most of which, of course, are pretty terrible.
My favorite is Glaser’s take on Dogfish Head, which, for such a great line of beers, really deserves better than its current dogshit design.
The surface of this is so unpleasant. It sort of looks lumpy, like food that has gone bad. To me, this is antithetical to the idea of refreshing taste. Even though this violates assumption, it still doesn’t create a sense of anticipation about drinking it.
Flying Dog, with its Ralph Steadman illustrations, gets some kinder words.
With this Ralph Steadman drawing, the idea of transgression and resistance and bad taste is raised to its most obvious level. It’s also sort of dealing with masculinity, heroic figures and death. There’s a real narrative. It’s a demonstration that this beer is not playing by the rules.
The worst is reserved for Smuttynose’s Finestkind IPA, which features a photo of two old guys on its label.
These two old, disreputable geezers certainly don’t represent sophisticated drinking. The intention is, basically, to shock the viewer. The idea of looking like you don’t know what you’re doing is really amplified here.
See them all at the Times.