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The beverage industry is rebranding. Where the markers of the finest wines and liquors were once indecipherable French labeling, prestigious chateau designations and intricate design, today’s most enticing brands are bright, bold and modern.
Top left: Minneapolis’s Bauhaus Brew Labs Sky Five. Top right: Queseria La Antigua de Fuentesauco, inspired by vintage milk bottles. Bottom right: La Cale, France. Bottom left: Kabinet Brewery, Serbia.
The trend stems from both the producer and consumer sides. For producers, obstacles to joining the industry are ever fewer. New World wine regions are unlocking their potential, encouraging a plethora of new winemakers in regions from the Finger Lakes to South Africa and Walla Walla to New Zealand. Antiquated liquor laws are relaxing their grip on small-scale distillers. Beverages once considered second-tier, including beer and cider, have risen dramatically in quality and, accordingly, prestige. These advances have bred a healthy competition for consumers’ attention.
TL: Aluminum bottles support an outdoor adventure theme – Base Camp Brewing Co., Portland, Ore. TR: Niagara Oast House Brewers, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Center left: Calif.’s Stack Wines come packaged in four unbreakable take-anywhere vessels. Bottom: 450 North Brewing Co., Columbus, Ind. Below: Great Raft Brewing, Shreveport, La.
And more consumers are taking notice. Much has been made of the rising numbers of younger drinkers, especially Millennials. This generation is more adventurous than previous ones in its beverage decisions – nearly 15% of its members will try a new drink at any given bar, as compared to only 8% of the general population – and though Millennials’ spending power per capita is currently the lowest, overall spending power is expected to overtake every other market segment based on the generation’s raw numbers.
Millennials’ consumption patterns challenge producers to provide a unique experience sans wine snobbery at a low price point. These patterns reflect a larger democratization of beverage: where once fine wine and spirits served as status symbols, the movement to make them accessible across new demographics has simplified complex vocabulary, devalued pretense and made it okay for drinkers to like a beverage simply because it tastes good – no need to pick out all the subtle undertones and nuances.
TL: Rosso del Vigneto Nuovo bagged wine by Reverse Innovation. TR: Westbrook Brewing Co.‘s Gose, brewed in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. with coriander and sea salt. BR: Alcohol branding has crossed over into other specialty beverages, especially coffee. Here, Colo.’s Whiskey Barrel Coffee beans. BL: Paradise Gourmet Club coffee sampler in wood box.
As shelves fill with the bounties of a new guard of urban craft breweries and biodynamic micro-wineries, branding and packaging have become the most effective way to communicate accessibility and individuality. Bright colors, simplified labels and bold graphics are among the motifs of modern beverage packaging. Where vintage aesthetics are tied in, they are incorporated with a modern spin, and sometimes even ironically. Unconventional packaging shapes and functions are frequently used as building blocks of a unique brand identity. The overall outcome is a reconfiguration of the world of beverage as low-key, highly varied and enjoyable for everyone.
Above: A bottle of traditional Polish Nalewka designed by Foxtrot Studio in Warsaw.
Below: Where brands reach for traditional or handmade aesthetics, they often do so in a modern way. TL: Quebec’s Chic Choc Spiced Rum modernizes a classic look. TR: Stockholm-born global company Our/Vodka makes its liquor local by building microdistilleries in various cities, sourcing ingredients from nearby and naming the final product after that city. BR: Tennessee’s Ole Smoky Charred Moonshine, packaged in long-trending Mason jars. BL: Auckland, New Zealand’s Stolen’s Coffee & Cigarettes Spiced Rum goes for a handmade look.
Product popularity reflects the same trends. Brightly colored and playful beverage accessories have been enjoying steady increases in popularity, as have vintage pieces with a modern spin. Click to shop top sellers.
Photo credits: Punch Drink, The Dieline, Uncrate.