While preparing for a new project with my good pals at East End Brewing Company, I came across some concept sketches for the Smokestack Heritage Porter label.
Since 2007, they've bottled three batches of this dark delicious brew, and for each new release, we've tweaked the label's color scheme.
My first sketch proposed issuing the beer with a pair of labels, one with a female and the other showing a male millworker.
This one attempted to incorporate the government warning into the design, placing it on a sign next to the label mascot.
East End's Scott Smith liked the color scheme and concept, but requested a looser, more cartoony character. In the interest of economy, we also decided to go with just one label for this 600-bottle batch, and I prepared this revised sketch.
Again, Scott asked for a looser look, resulting in this (superior) design:
I was very pleased with this one, particularly the puff of white smoke, placed such that it could be coming from either the cigar on the smokestack in the background. We abandoned the warning sign, reduced the text to its legal minimum size, and rotated it 90 degrees, blending it into the background.
The finished labels (below) were pasted on by hand, and East End customers happily bought up the entire run in short order.
A second batch of SHP was brewed in 2008, and we adjusted the color scheme to distinguish it from the earlier bottling. This palette is a little subtler, in keeping with the beer's mellow, dark flavor.
Last October, Scott brewed the most recent batch of Smokestack Heritage, and we fiddled with the color scheme again, toning it down even more.
This one, which came four years after the first iteration, is my favorite. The 2007 version now looks harsh and garish to me, while the latest coveys an almost historical feel. If we were to do a fourth release, I think I'd change the hard hat to a sepia shade that matches the rest of the label.
One other tiny but significant addition here is the inclusion of the bottling date, for collectors who plan to cellar their beer.