By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Eating Our Words
I can admit it: I am a packaging whore to some extent. A nice label is bound to catch my eye, be it laundry detergent, gin, beer, heroin...By the same token, bad marketing can turn me off of what may very well be a great product.
Beer is a notorious offender in the bad-packaging arena. Across the country, bad labels stalk liquor-store shelves. People who make beer aren't always the most visually stimulated folks around, and some of these beer labels are lasting proof that most of these guys may very well be blind.
As anyone who has been to the far reaches of the Northeast can attest, fashion and visual aesthetic are not paramount to these people, and their beer labels show it. Apparently, when you spend six months out of the year being accosted by blinding snowstorms, making things pretty takes a backseat to more important tasks, like not dying of hypothermia in a snowdrift.
That's not to say the breweries farther west fare any better. Apparently getting stoned and busting out your kids' crayons is what amounts to label art for a lot of beer makers out west. Colorado breweries alone could fill a third-grade classroom with groan-worthy labels and still not win an art ribbon.
Since there really is so much bad beer-label artwork to choose from, we limited it to bottles with which you could personally assault your eyes at your local grocery or liquor store.
We put the ten ugliest beer labels in Texas on the Houston Press Eating...Our Words blog, so go there if you want to see them all. Here's our top five:
5. Tommyknocker Anything
I couldn't pick one. Not only have I never had any of their beers — largely because of their horrible labels — I simply couldn't pick one that was any worse than another. They all suck that badly. Labels feature a '70s-era stylized gnome of some sort engaged in various "humorous" (read: creepy as fuck) activities vaguely related to the beer's name. Every time I am tempted to try a Tommyknocker, I lock eyes with that creepy fuckin' dwarf on the bottle and all bets are off.
4. Real Ale Devil's Backbone
Real Ale labels for the most part are not very good. The year-round beers like Full Moon and Rio Blanco are boring holdovers from the '90s. This year their Devil's Backbone Trippel Ale saw a recipe tweak and a bump to year-round status, and saw its label go from bad to "Holy shit, my eyes!" The new artwork resembles that third-grade art project, the kind where you would color a piece of paper wildly in a myriad of crayon colors, then go over it in black crayon. This left you a blank palette to scratch a design into, which then revealed a rainbow of color underneath. Yeah, it's stupid, and so is this label.
3. Santa Fe Pale Ale
If you have ever flown into conspiracy theory-ridden Denver International Airport, you may have noticed the bizarre murals and oddly placed Masonic references. Santa Fe labels are the Denver airport of beer: largely innocuous, probably harmless, still really creepy. Sporting art that looks lifted straight from a box of Broderbund software circa 1989 and printed on a laser jet printer of the same era, the whole mess is framed in an unnecessary triangle, which we all know is the favorite two-dimensional shape of cults everywhere. The labels were outdated when Santa Fe Brewing pulled out of Texas back in 2009. Santa Fe has returned and has begun updating packaging, but Pale Ale can still be found on shelves.
2. Laughing Dog CSB
Another really solid beer plagued by horrible labeling. Every single one of Laughing Dog Brewing's labels — with the exception of maybe Alpha Dog — looks like it was drawn by a drunken seven-year-old. Don't get me wrong, Alpha Dog still sucks...it just sucks a little less. Maybe the seven-year-old sobered up, who knows. CSB noses out a win here among equally shitty peers because of its name. CSB stands for Crotch Sniffing Bastard. And as luck would have it, the dog on the label, who appears to have contracted a severe case of "derp," is about to jam his wet nose up the skirt of some unwitting yet thankfully faceless woman. Classy. As. Fuck.
1. Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale
Rogue's ode to the world-famous Oregon dough slingers, this beer is almost universally reviled for being, in technical terms, absolutely gross. Like most Rogue bottles, Voodoo Doughnut doesn't have a traditional label, but rather is painted. The Pepto-Bismol-pink bottle is emblazoned with what I assume is supposed to be a caricature of a voodoo practitioner, but it looks an awful lot like a drunk alien in a top hat.
Craft Beer & Crepes
First Look at Guru Burgers and Crepes in Sugar Land Town Square.
Out of all the "town square" developments that have cropped up in Houston suburbs over the last few years, Sugar Land's Town Square has been one of the most successful. Along with Market Street in The Woodlands and CityCentre in Memorial, these neo-urban centers in traditionally suburban communities bring a small, manageable dose of the close-knit city into areas where restaurants, bars and other businesses would normally be spread out over miles of asphalt.