Odell Brewing Makes the Scene in Brewing Artwork
By Kyle Kirves
Motion. In a word, that’s what Alex Kayne, director of marketing at Odell Brewing, suggests is the unifying vision for their artwork: conveying a sense of movement. It’s imagery that you can see yourself in. That’s you snowshoeing across the wintry glade to the secluded cabin of Isolation. You tending hops and grains in the close-to-a-snow-globe pint glass of St. Lupulin. You wading in the shallows beneath the falls of Runoff Red. Maybe that’s even you, the whooping yahoo on the rodeo elephant of their IPA, halfway through your eight-second ride. They are stills like one page of a flip-book, but you can easily piece together the rest with your imagination.
In terms of the creative process, Kayne insists it always starts with the product. “We spend a lot of time iterating on every beer,” says Kayne. Each one is piloted as part of an iterative brewing and validation process – including feedback from the tasting room, where new beers are frequently test-driven. Once they’ve settled on a recipe that they love, it graduates to larger scale production. Then, a complex creative process begins with the quality assurance team where everything about the spirit of the beer is taken into account, including style and flavor notes and what makes it distinct from other offerings both in- and out-of-house.
From there, names for the product are bandied about and the team brainstorms design possibilities for marketing, even asking questions like, “If this beer were a celebrity, what celebrity would it be? And why?” The passion of the people at Odell feeds the creative process, sourcing from a passionate group of poets, artists, musicians, skiers, mountain bikers, hikers, fishers, kayakers and Coloradans who also happen to be brewers. Ultimately, the beer’s persona emerges out of these conversations and the sketches begin to hone in on a particular appealing direction.
All of it comes through in the sense of motion or growth, from the mad-dash getaway that is the Myrcenary label, to the sun-pursuing moon of Mountain Standard, to the breath-holding bear on the Brombeere Gose.
“Great care and effort goes into every release. We put that same attention into the design aesthetic and the details in the artwork and the story behind the beer. Every one,” says Odell brand artist Regan Reynolds, “has its own unique story that we want to bring to life or implies a scene that we want to create and make memorable.”
Nowhere is that sense of flow more apparent than in a relatively recent addition to the lineup, Drumroll American Pale Ale. “With Drumroll,” Kayne says, “we had a lot more real estate to work with in terms of artwork because it is a can-only offering. Rather than a snapshot, like a bottle label, we could use the whole wrap to put in a complete rolling landscape. The wind, the river, the mountains and golden trees. We could really capture a sense of place.”
It works. The can art on Drumroll is as animated as a label can get, and it represents a gradual evolution in Odell’s packaging over the past ten years or so. Prior to a redesign around 2005, Odell had great, enviable beers, but inconsistent artwork and packaging. Beginning in 2005, that changed. “The original artwork was good, but there wasn’t a lot of continuity from label to label. The focus was to get a cohesive look. Something that was easily identifiable as an Odell product,” says Reynolds. Longtime fans will notice updates to the Easy Street Wheat artwork (and perhaps others) in the coming months – consistent with the old look, but evolving in a new direction.
And why not? When you make as many great beers as Odell does, you want beer lovers to know – and try – them all, picking from what now amounts to a wall of Odell Brewing’s offerings in the beer aisle. And when you do choose one, you can rest assured that the beer in the bottle or can has been tested and approved by beer lovers like you.
Kyle Kirves is a solid dude who believes drinking beer should be a five-senses experience.