Tag Archives: production design

Beer we go again: Seasonal themed beers hit the shelves

The window for barbecues and pool parties is rapidly closing and we’re tasked with putting out the flame of a summer that wasn’t. As the season’s most avid fan, but always the optimist, I’ve decided to focus on positive and get an early jump on the new seasonal arrival of one of my favorite products—craft beer! And I’m not just talking any beer, no sir, this week I’ve got pumpkin flavored beer between the ears. The number of microbreweries decorating store shelves is higher than it’s ever been before and I think it only fitting that we examine some of the new products and designs by divvying up some seasonal love.

Armed with an IPhone and a $20 bill, I headed down the street to the local Binny’s” to see what was new in the “seasonal” section. I decided to snap a few pictures of some of my favorite box art and bottle designs and share them with everyone. With the names getting catchier and the designs more elaborate, there’s definitely plenty to enjoy this time around.

Here are a few of my favorites:

   Jaw-Jacker  Pumpkin Smasher  Pumpkin Chai

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year for numerous reasons. Why do I love it so much you ask? I love it because it gives everyone the green light to get weird! And all the craft beer boom has done is force these companies to make more and more of a creative effort to capitalize on the weirdness. So who get’s the gold you ask? It’s definitely the folks who’ve created this. Simply labeled “Pumpkin Chai” this wicked witches brew is concocted by the folks at the Saugatuck Brewing Company, which just as it sounds is located somewhere in Michigan. I’m a bit torn on this one for two reasons; A) I do not like the taste of Chai tea but I do like pumpkin beer and B) it’s hard for me to justify spending $10.49 on something I already half find un-enjoyable. That said, the art on the boxes and bottles is pretty sick so I may have to just bite the bullet and try it.

Deciding on my favorite box art in this young season isn’t easy. There’s this this this this and that but my front runner so far is Jinx by Magic Hat (pictured on the header). I’m a sucker for busy detailed art that works and this definitely works for me. Speaking of busy art that works, it’s not Pumpkin themed, but this may be one of my all time season favorites. It’s Left Hand’s Oktoberfeast design. Left Hand has been one of my favorite breweries for some time now and I couldn’t help but complement there latest effort The beer is a lager and not only does it look good, it tastes pretty damn good too.

Speaking of taste, just like the designs on the outside the flavors are all over the place on the inside. For me the raining champion is Pumpkin Smasher by Big Muddy. It features a great box design, which features a sasquatch and it’s brewed in Southern Illinois … need I say more? I’ve selected several challengers so far to try and dethrone the beast but none accepted the challenge. Here’s a rundown of how I feel about each of them:

Ichabod by New Holland

A spicy slice of pumpkin pie in a glass, that’s what this stuff is. The taste was a bit more enjoyable because this was the first sip of pumpkin beer since the calendar flipped but stuff packs almost a little too much spice.

Overall Grade C+

Pumpkin Head by Shipyard

A worthy competitor to Pumpkin Smasher, the box features a super hero-esque version of Ichabod Crain so I couldn’t resist picking this one up. The beer packed plenty of punch in the spice department just like Ichabod but the real payoff is how smooth it goes down.

Overall Grade B 

Out of Your Gourd by RedHook

I’d have to be out of my gourd to try ”Out of Your Gourd” Pumpkin porter from Red Hook again. This stuff is horrible. It tasted like I was drinking left over coffee grounds. It was however a fantastic testament to what a catchy tagline can do to sell beer and the stubby Red Stripe like bottles offer an additional splash in the curiosity department. At 5.8% alcohol by volume, if you can stand the taste these offer the quickest path of the bunch to a good buzz. That said, it’s nearly a complete failure.

Overall Grade D-

Oktoberfest Märzen Lager by Lefthand

Looking at the box design, I thought to myself, “There’s no way the taste could measure up”…but I was wrong. This lager is delicious in every way. Don’t take my word for it, just try it yourself

Overall Grade B+

So there you have it Pumpkin Heads, a rundown of a craft beer world, Halloween style. These are just a few of the samplings of what’s out there this season and I’m sure these won’t be the last samples I taste. I also stumbled upon this great website I found while researching for this article which you can find here. Enjoy the site and if you have any thoughts on some good beers message me and lets communicate.

Anacondas and spiders and astronauts, oh my! Dissecting the creative genius that was the 2014 MTV VMAs

Ah, the MTV movie awards…I don’t usually feel compelled to right about celebrity get-togethers or celebrities at all for that matter but Sunday’s production was really something to behold. At its finest point, the show featured some truly gorgeous set work, clever costume design, fantastic stage lighting and mind-blowingly creative performances. At its lowest, the show’s over-sexualizing and objectification of women threatened to send the creative production off its axis. And not to mention moments like Beyoncé’s performance of “Partition” just felt awkward. I understand that art and sexuality often find themselves in the same bed but to blatantly objectify women and then post on the stage in rolling neon lights “We’re not objectifying women” left me scratching my head. I know it’s MTV but come on guys you’re better than that. Everything said, the over-the-top blend of celebrity hoopla and brilliant creative work definitely answered the call of “Entertain the People” which, for some reason made me feel a little better about the whole thing.

The awards themselves were equally bizarre; and in this case, I’m totally okay with it. MTV once again made the otherwise boring task of handing out awards to musicians extremely exciting. Did they piss a few people off in the process? Probably, but like I’ve always said, the number one rule of good art is it should evoke a strong emotional response and the over the top. Whether it was Miley Cyrus having runaway Jesse Helt accepting her award while she sobbed next to the stage or Beyoncé’s onstage family reunion, the 2014 edition of MTV’s award acceptances were definitely press worthy.

Switching gears, let’s focus on what really worked creatively. The most obvious was the opening intro, which blended performance art, body painting and an opening camera pan through Nikki Minaj’s neon jungle. The performance was built around her new single “Anaconda” and was a fitting prelude to what would be a night filled with shock and awe.

After Minaj exited the stage, it was on to Ariana Grande’s cast of characters that looked as if they’d been raiding David Bowie’s closet. It appears someone decided to dust off the vinyl used to create those hokie visors from the 1990’s and turn them into what you see here…very cool. 5 Seconds of summer then followed with a much more conventional approach proving that simple and creative almost always gets the job done. The set featured shipping pallets, Urban Outfitters-style, catastrophically strewn all over the stage which were heated with warm yellow/orange floodlights. This accented both the song and the youth of the band exceptionally well.

Then came the rolling crescendo of sexuality. First Nikki Minaj’s dress decided to fall apart, which rendered her mostly immobile, then Jesse Jane paraded out in a costume that looked as if it had already malfunctioned before she put it on. Her range of motion was so severely crippled her only option was to pace back and forth across the stage. The dress probably worked a lot better on paper than it did as a functional piece of clothing and other than shock value, this performance really didn’t provide much on the artistic side of things.

Next up was my absolute favorite performance of the evening, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s duet “Black Widow”. If you want to see what flawless execution of the creative process looks like in motion, watch this video. This one had it all; imaginative costumes, beautiful lighting, and most importantly, it let the performance drive the production. I’ve never particularly been a fan of Miss Azalea but after watching the arachnophobic onslaught of spoken words she and her equally talented counterpart Rita Ora unleashed upon the crowd, I was truly left in awe. I’ve never seen a women or anyone for that matter, speak as fast as Iggy and Rita and for that, I give these women serious kudos. After we give the kudos out, can we also maybe check Rita’s driver’s license because I’m pretty sure she’s Rhianna.

As I mentioned this was the high watermark of the awards, so from this point on my interested waned a bit. As I mentioned Miley Cyrus sent Jesse Helm, a runaway to accept her award for best video. I’m not a Miley basher by any means and I can always appreciate a celebrity who invests their time and money into helping the underprivileged, but the whole thing kind of felt an attempt to hijack the show. I guess that’s just Miley being Miley and really shouldn’t have been surprised.

The final performance of the night belonged to the one and only Beyonce and I must say I was disappointed. I know diehard fans will hail this as amazing but for me it just seemed like a mash-up that didn’t really fit together cohesively. The performance had its moments but in the end, it seemed way overproduced. I also didn’t believe dragging the entire family onstage in front of millions of viewers; just to prove she’ll be together with Jay-Z a few more months was at all necessary. I like lights, I like lasers, and everything else they threw at us viewers but unlike the “Black Widow” performance, it felt forced.

Last but not least, you can’t mention the MTV music awards without mentioning the iconic “Moonman” awards that the company hands out. It’s been a few decades now since the first chrome astronaut (created by the now defunct Manhattan Design) was walked across the stage. This year was no exception but this time around the design got a funky new facelift by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS. Purists probably won’t like this design and even I’ll admit I’ll miss the silver plated Buzz Aldred, but the KAWS “Moonman” is a much more accurate representation of the quirky personality of the MTV network. You can check out more on KAWS and the new “Moonman” here to get the full scoop.

Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed the awards as much as I did. MTV should be commended for a job well done. The only said part is we have to wait another 365 days to see what they’ll do again next year. Whatever it is, we know it’ll get us talking.