Beer & Branding: Upland Sour Ales

BLOOMINGTON, IN

Beer & Branding: Upland Sour Ales

We've covered Bloomington, Indiana's Upland Brewing a few times here on The Hop Review–and for good reason. Other than being a Hoosier state staple, their design has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years (see their 2014 rebranding feature here, and their Champagne Velvet refresh here). After their recent aesthetic refresh efforts, one cornerstone piece in their portfolio was still in need of attention: Upland Sour Ales. Therefore, Indianapolis-based agency Young & Laramore created a striking series of new bottles–as well as an accompanying poster campaign–to truly set their acclaimed sours apart from the rest.

From Young & Laramore: “Sour ales—beers that are made with wild yeast and often intensely tart, acidic and/or funky—are not for everyone. But for adventurous craft drinkers who appreciate and seek them out, Upland’s wood-aged sours are among the finest in the world.

As we learned more about the brewing process, it became evident that a crucial part of what makes Upland’s sours so good is the careful blending of different batches to create a complex, yet balanced flavor profile. And so the idea of ‘blended works of art’ was born. This concept was brought to life in a comprehensive rebranding—complete with artwork by the incomparable Michael Cina—that emphatically communicates the level of not only craft, but artistry, present in every bottle.”

While the new packaging might feel a little 'tacked on' in cases (I'm looking at you, clunky colored square logo...), the Cina illustrations are fairly groundbreaking for the world of beer. Also, I've always felt that Gotham, as a font, should be used with the finest intentions. It's a beautiful typeface that–while being made famous by President Obama's 2008 "Hope" campaign–can't help but feel slightly placeholder in some instances. The contrast of the intricate and vibrant artwork, against the chunky bold gold foil type is obvious. Nonetheless, these bottles have already been getting plenty of buzz and attention, if not for their new look alone.

So, in the case of acquiring consumers who might've not reached for an Upland Sour before, they just might now. Who wouldn't want one of these beers sitting on their shelf? I almost don't even care what the style is...

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Images from Young & Laramore, yandl.com.

Be sure to check out our previous "Beer & Branding" feature of Upland's 2014 rebranding, here, as well as our 2013 interview with brewer Patrick Lynch, here.