Trends in Craft Beer Labels & Packaging in 2021

It’s nearly unbelievable what has happened in the craft beer industry and trends over the past few decades. In the US alone, there were 1,813 breweries in 2010—and there are approximately 8,000 in operation today. 75% of adults in the US now live within 10 miles of a brewery.

Of course, with strong growth comes sharply increased competition. And one of the surest ways to cut through competition is with creative labels and packaging. That’s why, with so many contenders in the market these days, innovation in labels and beer packaging is strong.

These are the craft beer trends that are catching eyes, driving sales, and winning brand fans in 2021.

Emphasized Product Names

Russell Brewing Co. – Peach & Apricot Hefeweizen

If you want to increase brand awareness of a particular product in your line, this trend will do the trick. The idea is to dominate the design with the product name so that it’s perfectly clear what the drinker will be enjoying. It’s an opportunity for strong typography that can enhance a product name with a lot of personality.

Crowlers

Crowlers

Crowlers are 32-ounce aluminum cans, and they’re catching on like wildfire in the craft beer segment. In fact, aluminum, in general, is gaining a larger share of the beer market every year. That may change with higher tariffs in the wake of COVID-19, but for now, can is king. And a crowler offers up a whole lot of can for your designer to work with.

Nostalgia

Craft Beer Trends
Legend Seven Brewing Co. – Superbia Saison

Creating designs and choosing typography that harkens back to bygone eras has been a strong trend in beer for quite some time. It shows no signs of slackening, with premium brands drawing on aesthetic traditions like the early twentieth-century Art Nouveau movement.

Kraft Paper

Craft Beer Trends
Container Brewing – 4 Pack

Kraft, the light brown substrate is made from 100% recycled materials, is showing up increasingly as a substrate for labels and packaging. It can effortlessly make a brand feel warm, vintage, and authentic.

Geometric

Craft Beer Trends
Strathcona Brewing – Big Sexy Funk

This trend is all about straight lines, sharp angles, and symmetrical designs. Geometric patterns and designs that guide the eye to the focal point of the label are gaining in popularity. This approach is perfect for brands cultivating a hip, minimalist aesthetic.

Character/Story-Driven

Craft Beer Trends
Fuggles & Warlock – Warp Zone

We know that storytelling can elevate a brand to the next level, and we’re seeing that elevation take place again and again in the beer industry. Illustrated characters that represent the product in whimsical, irreverent ways are showing up, transforming beers into storyboards.

Ink Drawings

Craft Beer Trends
Paper Brewing Co. – Navigating Darkness

Technical, intricate ink drawings are a sure way to attract attention to a label or a pack. The level of detail in these illustrations suggests precision, care, and attention to the little things—values that are widely embraced in the beer industry, especially the craft beer industry.

Colour Blocking

Craft Beer Trends
Tapworks Brewing Co. – One Sailing Wait

Bold blocks of colour in soft, unique shapes create striking effects on innovative beer packaging in 2021. Layers of colours evoke fine art traditions (see: Mark Rothko) that combine hues in abstract but undeniably eye-catching ways.

“Wine-Like” Sophistication

Craft Beer Trends
Four Winds Brewing – Opulence

As beer can increasingly be perceived as a high-end product, brands are catching up to the wine industry in terms of elegance and sophistication. Typography and design that suggest the finer things in life can really drive the premium status of a beer brand.

At this stage of the game, the craft beer industry is generating new ideas every day. In this profusion of design innovation, you need to stand out. Hopefully, this list has sparked your imagination and given you a sense of what kind of designers (and packaging partners) you should be working with. If you have any questions about what’s possible, please reach out.

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