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The Jester Stays

The Jester Stays

Following a two year re-branding project, Weyerbacher is getting a minty, invigorating face scrub. Up until very recently, the seventeen-year-old company was a bit dragged down by blasé labels that featured a Comic Sans-looking typeface, and which were unfortunately dated with the brewery’s website in large print (that .com promotional habit everyone had fifteen years ago before our Googling capabilities rivaled our most basic human functions).

And the characters we came to know on these labels, like the Imperial Pumpkin, were mischievous and fun but lacked a certain visual gravity to pull us in. Some labels lacked a visual component altogether.

The new labels, drawn by freelance artist Sean Clark, are intense yet inviting portraits that simply “bring the branding up to the quality of the beer,” as Joshua Lampe of FFM Creative/Standing Stone Media, who spearheaded the re-design, puts it. As the artisan quality of beer has rocketed–Lampe asserting that the taste of the beer is still clearly the most important piece of the brand–so has the visual aspect of bottles, which are now often standalone works of art in multiple mediums, not just interesting identification tags. It was only natural that Weyerbacher, known for their big, confrontational and bold beers, joined the competition on the shelf. The transition was well-researched and smooth; “We’re glad we took the time to do it right,” says founder Dan Weirback. They spent about a year just defining who the brand was. “And part of that was figuring out what people thought of us.” Consistently, feedback came as a great love for the explosive, adventurous beers but a lackluster meh for the labels–which Lampe describes as “the only thing people didn’t like about Weyerbacher” in the customer surveys.

The new spotlighted Merry Monks is drenched in impressionistic warm colors and humbly keeps a naughty secret. His cohort, the new Imperial Pumpkin Ale king, is robustly regal with a great wince of pleasure. The new Winter Ale has morphed from a low-fi PBS cartoon into the rich, celestial blues of a family portrait, which includes the scarecrow who now dreamily forebodes on the Autumnfest Ale. And, the Blithering Idiot jester– once a stripped, geometrical, two-color marionette–is the most beautiful transformation of all; smug in his carnival glory and looking like a walk-off from a “Brothers Grimm” scene. Briefly
in jeopardy, the jester is ultimately staying as a longtime icon that the public associates with Weyerbacher. “When you have a homegrown brewery, people really feel a part of it. The last thing you want to do is push them away,” Lampe says. The new labels will do nothing of the sort.

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