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Beer Labels: A Short History

Beer isn’t just one of the world’s most popular beverage it is also an art form in many respects. That might sound a little over the top but beer is a very collectible industry with a lot of followers. Beer labels, in particular, are something many people love.

They have even attracted people who don’t even particularly like the taste of beer. Beer is a very versatile beverage in many respects and there is a lot of scope to what you can find on a beer label. Many beers have very colourful and creative labels which is why there are many keen collectors out there.

Beer labels as we know them today aren’t particularly old either. Beer wasn’t bottled on mass till the mid-1800s, before that people used their own containers to collect beer. These were often marked with their own unique designs/ personal identifiers.

For example, many people used a family coat of arms to signify their own containers. In the move to mass bottling, many breweries used labels to greatly improve their own brand awareness and used labels as a way to set themselves away from other breweries.

Manufacturers did this in many ways when designing their labels for example there is the famous Guinness harp, the Bass brewery red triangle and many more. Art and creativity play a huge part in beer labels and you won’t see many beers taking a dull or muted approach.

Beer labels are usually quite colourful and every brewery will have a trademark of some form. They are very powerful marketing tools as well as they give individual breweries a way to stand out from the competition.

The first precursor to the beer labels we know of today can actually be traced back to Ancient Egypt. In some of the first known bottles/ containers of alcohol Egyptians used hieroglyphics to label each container so people knew what was in each one.

In later years parchment was used to label bottles of wine but since the beer industry was slower to adopt labelling the older beer labels are still similar to those you see today in many respects. So, beer labels have a lot of uses and are a great way for different breweries/ brands to advertise themselves.

They have also become quite collectible especially when it comes to rare more limited edition beers. But while it’s interesting to see just how much use and impact beer labels have had it’s important that we look at their main priority. After all, beer labels are designed to do a very important job aren’t they?

What Information Is On Beer Labels

It might seem pretty simple and straightforward to read a beer label but sometimes it can be a little confusing. If you are thinking of crafting your own beers then it is essential that you know what to include on the label. So, to help with both matters let’s look at what information you’ll find on a beer label in more detail.

Alcohol Content: This one is pretty self-explanatory breweries will need to label how much pure alcohol there is in their beers.

Net Content: It might seem similar to the above but the net content is about how much beer there is in the bottle for example 12 ounces.

Beer Type: There are many different types of beer and legally you will have to ensure your beer label says which type of beer is in the bottle.

Business Name/ Address: Finally, breweries will also need to ensure their name and address are clearly labelled.

Other Considerations: While this might not technically be something you need to include on the label the font and typography are very important. While you won’t have a lot of room to use on most labels you will need to ensure the font and typography are legible and not too small.

So, that completes our short look into beer labels. There history is relatively fresh in many ways and they are very effective branding/ marketing tools. But they also do a very important job so the next time you get a bottle of beer be sure to check the label. 

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