Article by: Kindsey Bernhard

In a state that is dominated by bourbon, the craft beer industry is booming in Kentucky. There are currently 50 active licenses for breweries in the state. However, good beer can only take a business so far. Breweries need to be successful in marketing, especially with their creative, visual branding.  

There had always been a love of craft beer in Paducah, but Dry Ground Brewing and Paducah Beer Werks played a huge role in its growth. This growing craft beer community led to the start of a festival that is very near and dear to us, PaBREWcah. For those who do not know, PaBREWcah is an annual craft beer festival held in historic downtown Paducah.

We have many craft beer fanatics in the office, so we thought it would be fun to do something that involved marketing and PaBREWcah.

The idea to rank my favorite beer from each and every brewery that’s attending PaBREWcah was quickly shot down. We instead decided to tell you what we like about the branding of some of the breweries who package that will be at this year’s event.


Hi-Wire Brewing

Asheville, NC

Photo Credit: Hi-Wire Brewing

Kindsey: I am obsessed with anything and everything that involves a dog. That is why I love Hi-Wire’s Lo-Pitch Juicy IPA. One of the most important things for breweries to have is packaging that stands out. When I walk into Wagner Wine & Spirits and am walking down the craft beer aisle, packaging that stands out is usually the reason I end up buying a beer. With this industry growing, you need to be able to stand out from your competitors in more than just taste.

Nick: Hi-Wire does a great job of not letting the consistency in their visual style become boring. If you line up their bottles next to one another, there’s a constant through line in the art, a sense of unity, but each label is distinctive in its own right. You couldn’t mistake one for the other. It’s all very charming, between the vintage typography, hand-painted art, and whimsical animals. And, great beer is especially charming.

Blake: I actually discovered Hi-Wire after noticing the packaging of their collaborative 12 packs. An obvious nod to the classic Krylon logo, the design and execution of the packaging and bottles is both brilliant and fun. It was a great way to utilize minimalist design by being consistent while highlighting the individual breweries they paired with for each brew.


Cincinnati, OH

Kindsey: One of the things I love about Rhinegeist is their consistency. The only thing they change with their cans is the color to match the style of beer. If you were to take the logo and words off a Rhinegeist beer, I would recognize the can right away. When it comes to marketing and brand awareness, consistency is so important. Rhinegeist has mastered this so much that there is a sort of comfort in drinking their beer.

Nick: Kindsey’s observation is spot on. Rhinegeist might have the best visual brand in craft beer. I also have a personal soft spot for them due to my love of all things spooky. Skull logo? “Ghost of the Rhine”? Great beer? Yes, please.

Blake: I agree with Kindsey. The Rhinegeist brand is rock solid, and a great example of the level of consistency you want your brand to possess. The design is minimal, but powerful and easily recognizable. This is another great example of a product that people will buy based on first impressions. A++.

Photo Credit: Rhinegeist

SweetWater Brewing Company

Atlanta, GA

Photo Credit: SweetWater Brewing Company

Kindsey: Besides making great beer, one of the reasons I love SweetWater is their effort to protect the environment and our water. SweetWater started the “Save Our Water” initiative as a way to give back to something that is important to them, keeping waters clean. There is nothing better than being able to drink beer and give back at the same time. When brands have a purpose or reason behind their products, people are more likely to buy or consume again. SweetWater’s initiatives to keep water clean gets people to buy their beer without really saying “buy our beer.”

Nick: As much as marketing people harp about brand consistency, I think SweetWater would actually be well-served to shake things up a little bit. I’d like to see what they could do within their fishing theme, without printing the same art on every can.

Blake: Not being much of an angler, the fishing motif doesn’t really resonate with me. However, I’m a fan of both their IPA and their Pineapple IPA, so that won’t keep me from overlooking that summer variety pack from time to time. Visually, they do start to push the boundaries with some creative designs on their tall-boys. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the tall-boys on our shelves. Hope they bring one of those brews this weekend!

Against the Grain Brewery

Louisville, KY

Kindsey: One of the many things I love about Against the Grain is the six characters they created for their beers: Hop, Smoke, Dark, Malt, Session and Whim. Every beer they brew is categorized under one of these characters. Everything from the name of the beer to the packaging of the can is a representation of that character. And in their taproom, they always have a beer from each character on tap.

Nick: These guys really have it all: great beer, equally good food, and killer art. The use of the six characters as a categorizing device is slick and fun, and builds the brand’s personality. What is especially impressive is how the actual brewery makes the brand manifest in the real world. The decor and architecture make stepping into the brewery really feel like stepping into the world that Hop, Smoke, and the others live in. Well, maybe the brewery is a little less grotesque than its art.

Blake: This beer could be terrible and I would still buy it based on the packaging alone. Each design is a work of thoughtful art packed with subtleties and nuances that I don’t even understand, nor am I meant to, but still, I am drawn to each and every one. Hands down one of the best brands in the brew business in my humble opinion.

Photo Credit: Against the Grain Brewery

3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Munster, IN

Photo Credit: 3 Floyds Brewing

Kindsey: I really don’t understand some of 3 Floyds packaging and I think that’s the reason it’s so popular.  No one else has packaging like them and that works for the brand they created. There might be a meaning behind each design and its connection to the beer, but I can’t tell. For me it’s a guessing game as to why that design was chosen. I always lose.

Nick: 3 Floyds is definitely one of my favorite breweries, between the sheer quality of the product and the sweet sci-fi and fantasy themes in a lot of their naming and design. They can be kind of all over the place in terms of style, but I think the quality of the beer carries them through no matter what. And even if they do deviate from their standard a lot, it is a strong one, with their psychedelic Heavy Metal-esque labels and over-the-top sci-fi names (see: Necron99 and Lazersnake). They live the brand too; just look at their collaboration with the grindcore band Pig Destroyer, a pale ale called Permanent Funeral. They really speak to the nerd in me.

Blake: I have long been a fan of 3 Floyds’ creative brews and their innovative design, which largely can be credited to their design group, Zimmer Design. They never put themselves in a box and seem to draw inspiration from everything around them. Including, as Nick noted, METAL. I’m always eager to get my hands on some Zombie Dust when it’s available. And, as a fan of puns, I sincerely appreciated their Floy Division series.

We love that Paducah has a type of event where the craft beer community can come together and celebrate great brands. We are just lucky it happens to be beer brands.