Beer by Design

“I came into beer from marketing and still occasionally get involved in consultancy on packaging design. As Chair of the Beer and Cider Marketing Awards, I’ve had the job of overseeing the judging of best beer packaging design sat a time when designers have thrown the rulebook out of the window. Now I get to celebrate all of this in book form.” – Pete Brown

Beer by Design will be a lavishly illustrated book about beer design.

November 2020

Pete Brown

Author, Broadcaster, Consultant, Beer Lover

Pete Brown is a British author, journalist, broadcaster and consultant specialising in food and drink, especially the fun parts like beer, pubs, cider, bacon rolls and fish and chips. Across nine books, his broad, fresh approach takes in social history, cultural commentary, travel writing, personal discovery and natural history, and his words are always delivered with the warmth and wit you’d expect from a great night down the pub. He was named British Beer Writer of the Year in 2009, 2012 and 2016, has won three Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards, and has been shortlisted twice for the Andre Simon Awards. Pete is Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers. He lives in London with his wife Liz, and dog Mildred.

While the book will major on beautifully crafted beer designs, it will also tell the story of beer design, labelling and packaging from when it really took off as a discipline in the late nineteenth century until the present day. In Great Britain, the trademark registration act was passed in 1875. Formally from the next year, the British Patent Office began work and the first trademark was registered by the Bass company.

Today in Britain there are over 2500 breweries, most of whom brew an ever-changing range of different beers. On the bar of any decent pub, or shelves of a good bottle shop or supermarket beer aisle, the choice can be overwhelming. People make snap decisions so quickly we don’t even notice. And the design of a beer label, pump clip, bottle or can has to do a lot of work to stand out, get noticed, and suggest to the thirsty punter that here is a beer they will enjoy.

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Beer is also, let us not forget, a natural product. Too often, large, mainstream beer brands conjure up images of big factories churning out a product that’s wrapped in chrome and steel throughout its entire process, then packaged in aluminium. Even before this, Victorian breweries tended to be tall, redbrick buildings spouting smoke and steam, catering primarily for populations working in factories, mines and mills. It pays to remind drinkers of the rolling fields of barley where beer is born, the magical lanes of hops hanging heavy on the bine, and the clear spring water that unites them in beer. 

More recently, one of the main sources of craft beer’s appeal is that people working in open-plan offices and pointless, soul-destroying jobs can live vicariously through the achievements of others. The beers we choose at the end of the day are symbolic acts where we pledge affinity to a more straightforward, meaningful and fulfilled life, silently rebelling against the system that holds us in place. Craft brands have played with representations of the countryside, making it more fantastical or dreamlike.