You may know him best for his stellar work at The Crafty Pint, or through his Instagram blog @goodtimescraftbeer, but one thing remains certain: Guy Southern is one of the go-to experts for all things craft beer.

In this guest post, Guy discusses the unique way in which craft beer has branched into the art of design, along with some notable collaborations between Western Australian breweries and designers.

Craft beer’s explosion over the past decade has fostered a focus on well-articulated label and can design. Good brewing isn’t enough, now packaging is more critical than ever before in representing beer’s liquid goodness. The trend can be linked back to early work from Danish brewer Mikkeller and his protégé To Øl who eschewed the idea of a core range and traditional label design for more artistic and ambiguous expression. This was echoed in the USA with breweries like Stillwater Artisanal and others.

Art and design are now intertwined and, in the spirit of collaboration that has also become a hallmark of modern beer, many breweries now use artists or external graphic designers to help create an aesthetic that resonates in the fridge doors and on social media. Instagram, in particular, has encouraged visual story telling through design. In many cases, the first time a drinker sees a new beer release will be on social media, so the packaging has to pop.

This doesn’t always have to scream at the drinker either. Good design is about removing elements until getting to the core of the concept. In Australia, Pirate Life’s 2014 surf/skate style branding set the tone for clean design focus, partly thanks to the visual impact of a beer can’s larger surface area. More recently, Balter Brewing’s minimalist appeal has taken this to the extreme and is regarded as design tipping point, one which is completely at odds with heritage beer labels.

As consumer demand increases, there are risks however in trying to remain relevant. Pushing brewing boundaries is one thing but with label design, it’s quite another. For the most part, the sexualisation of women to sell beer has been left where it belong – in the 1980s. As the Australian craft beer industry matures, increasingly modern beer deserves modern attitudes, creative graphic design and, most of all, respect.

Here are five standout West Australian beers and their design collaborators:

  1. Feral Brewing Co. x Dipesh ‘Peche’ Prasad – Look for Biggie Juice cans and the labels for the ongoing brewpub series.

  2. Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. x Frankly – Working from London, Frankly created the brand identity and has continued a steady stream of labels for the many single batch releases.

  3. Beerfarm x Silly Pear – The Bondi artist’s colourful work features on the limited releases like Shirazzaweisse and Berlinion Blanc.

  4. Eagle Bay Brewing Co. x Mane Liquor x Kyle Hughes-Odgers – Kyle’s artwork is showcased on the highly collectable, annual Winter barrel aged dark beer collaboration.

  5. Boston Brewing Co. x Zendoke – The design award winning Boondie Rye Pale Ale finds the Denmark beach attraction Elephant Rocks as adorable elephants on the can.

You can find Guy writing about beer for the Crafty Pint and his Instagram blog, Goodtimes Craft Beer!