Watch and weigh in while four designers and four breweries craft a new beer design. The designers know what went into the brew and what makes it unique, but they're not allowed to develop any graphic concepts or layouts before the event starts. They'll kick off with social hour sampling the beers and submitting name suggestions. After the live design, you'll be able to participate in an Q&A.

In advance of the April 17th event, we caught up with organizer Ryan Wheaton about building great relationships and the "rotation nation."


DWP: Tell us a little about the work you do at Craft Brew Creative.

Ryan: I have been a designer for 15 years and for the last six years I have focused my design niche to the craft beer industry. Craft Brew Creative is the face of all the beer branding and design work that I offer to clients. The work I do spans a wide gamut delivering to the needs of big and small breweries. I have worked with startup breweries to help them develop brand stories, values, and positioning. Taking those core elements, I help create their visual brands, packaging, websites, tap handles, and marketing collateral. I am currently working on offering product photography because so many breweries need better photographs of their beers and breweries.

Aside from my branding and design services, I dabble in other beer-related things. I taught a beer branding class for Oregon State University's Craft Brewery Startup Workshop. I have a beer branding podcast called Branding Brews. I also have been organizing and moderating beer branding events, like this year's Rough Draught event.

DWP: With so many breweries in the area, how did you select which ones to work with?

Ryan: This was definitely a tough one! From my previous DWP event, I have great relationships with Hopworks and Widmer Brothers. They have both been supportive and I wanted to include them both in this year's event. The Widmer Brothers Innovation Team is great to work with, translating the event concept to the beer they are creating for this event. Natalie Baldwin is a brewer at Breakside Brewing that has been getting some attention lately, so I wanted to have her take part. Plus, I like their beers and branding. The last brewery participating, Baerlic Brewing, is there for many reasons. One of the owners of Baerlic, Ben Parsons, has a graphic design background and they have done some great work at their brewery. They have also been killing it recently, winning a number of Oregon Beer Awards.

DWP: How does design reflect the current status of beer culture?

Ryan: When it comes to design, the beer industry has grown and changed like crazy. There are now over 6,000 breweries in the U.S. with almost 800 new breweries each year since 2013. For designers and breweries, it's getting harder to create unique brands that stand out on crowded shelves and taprooms. So many people are into craft beer now, so there are more customers than ever that want to try new and unique beers. That increase in drinkers and the craft beer boom has led to something the industry is calling the "Rotation Nation." Rotation Nation means that breweries don't rely on a staple of core lineup beers anymore; they're constantly needing to put out new beer releases to keep customer's attention. This challenges designers to deliver great looking labels and packaging, often times on a lower budget. These brewers are releasing shorter runs of beers and testing out the market for their releases. Designers need to help them create well-branded labels under these circumstances.

Partly due to self-adhesive labels and the rise of canning beers, the canvas to create beer labels has become larger and better. The creativity I have been seeing on can designs has been awesome. You see rad illustrations, modern and minimalist design, elegant and ornamental designs (think spirits or wine), plus almost anything you can design around a can. You can use foils, embossing, and special inks and label materials (like wood veneer, clear plastic, cotton). Printing on labels also allows designers to get really creative.


Event Details

Where: Hopworks Urban Brewery, 2944 SE Powell Blvd
When: Tuesday, April 17, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Organizer: Ryan Wheaton
Cost: $10

Visit the event page to register.