Iconic art, family heirlooms and quirky characters make up these memorable designs.
The brew kettle's one eyed jack
Chris McKim was hunting for a fuzzier, more family-friendly image. He'd been operating Ringneck Brewing Co. and the Brew Kettle's brew-on-premise operation separately for years. But in 2008, he wanted to bring them both under the Brew Kettle moniker. So he turned to the cheerful groundhog Gil Reis drew for the label of the brewery's flagship beer, Big Woody Lager, to replace Ringneck's pheasant mascot. "He's a happy, easily approachable little critter, and that's how we approach business," says McKim. The character, dressed in a red suit and black sunglasses with a pint of dark ale in his paw, now appears on the label for One Eyed Jack. "It's a classic, English-style robust porter," McKim says. "The style has been brewed for hundreds of years."
buckeye brewing Co.'s cleveland ipa
Garin Wright wanted to use one of his beers as a showcase of hometown pride. So the co-owner and brewer of Buckeye Brewing Co. turned to artist David Helton, creator of the iconic buzzard for WMMS 100.7, to design a label for Buckeye's Cleveland IPA. "In my opinion it's the best label we have," says Wright. Tapping into a rock 'n' roll concert T-shirt vibe, Helton features a heavy black and white skyline of Cleveland landmarks above a classic red "Cleveland IPA" that evokes the script used in the original 1974 WMMS buzzard mushroom logo. Wright got everything he wanted in one draft. "I know how talented this guy is," Wright says. "I said •David, give me the best impression you have of Cleveland.' He came back with the first rendition of this label and I said, 'It's done.' "
great lakes brewing co.'s conway's irish ale
For nearly 25 years, Cleveland policeman Patrick J. Conway stood at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue directing traffic with a manual signal pole. So when his grandsons Patrick and Daniel Conway opened Great Lakes Brewing Co., he was fittingly honored as the namesake of the brewery's tawny ale. "Our grandparents came from humble beginnings and they were trying to find a better life and they did," says Patrick. "This is a celebration of that success." Local artist Mike Guyot combined the Irish immigrant with a picture of St. Malachi Parish as a tribute to the family's roots. "That label embodies what we stand for as a local company while trying to celebrate Cleveland and family history," says Patrick.
thirsty dog brewing co.'s hoppus maximus
After creating all the labels for Thirsty Dog's beers, John Najeway has discovered the secret to getting dogs to pose for the camera. "Lots of dog treats and patience," says the co-owner of the Akron brewpub. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Photographer David Paternite snapped 100 images before coming up with the photo on the label for Hoppus Maximus, a brew inspired by Russell Crowe's Maximus in Gladiator. The label features Heero and Moshi, 4-month-old mastiffs that belong to the co-owner's neighbor, and Eric Martz (Najeway's former roommate) in Roman attire. Najeway, who also runs Southpaw Graphics advertising agency in Akron, combined the aggressive image with American Typewriter font to convey the vigor behind the hoppy beer. "It comes across as a bold, strong, American-style amber ale," Najeway says.