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Locally Brewed: The art of the can

How the look of a beer helps cut through the options
Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - When it’s poured into a glass the honeyed texture of crisp golden brew often has the allure to tempt even the most quenched drinker, but away from the taps and on the shelves, the charm of your favorite beer has a lot more work to do, because in the business of craft brews sometimes it’s about the looks.

“The outside and the inside,” Cari Caramonta, who owns Gnarly Barley with her husband Zac, said. “The inside is what counts, right, but come on everybody uses their eyes to pick something up for the first time and maybe to gravitate towards that can again and again because it’s fun and interesting to look at.”

The art of the can has become an integral part of the brew because like it or not what’s on the outside of the can does count, even for the well-established brewers with a widespread fan base.

“People know who we are so that helps,” David Blossman, President of Abita Brewing Company, said, “We’ve even seen if we do a good job on the artwork for this it sells better. If we don’t, it sells worse. It’s pretty amazing.”

“People drink with their eyes first. If it doesn’t look good, if it doesn’t look enticing, they’ll just walk past it,” Mitch Grittman, the brewer at Zony Mash Beer Project, said.

Zony Mash is hoping their pop art and familiar imagery will be a feast for your eyes because no longer are the cans just a throwaway.

“The goal is to make it as exciting on the outside and interesting on the outside as the beer is inside, because yeah if you walk down the aisle there are a million options at this point, local or macro or national,” Grittman said.

Urban South Brewery is eager to make sure their cans find their way into hands by shifting their branding to a bright pattern design.

“People like bright. It’s very visually attractive and it’s how you cut through all the noise,” Abby Perkins, with Urban South Brewery, said. “Part of that look is these patterns, bright can designs that I do think have a great ability to pop up off the shelves.”

The can that may stand out the most on shelves and might also leave some scratching their heads has a weird little guy on it over at Gnarly Barley.

“It’s Jucifer!” Zac Caramonta said. “He cannot be explained!”

“I guess he’s like a little crazy little creature,” Cari Caramonta said. “He’s like a Louisiana alligator he’s kind of got a slightly devilish eye to him, he’s got a little tail and a juicy booty, which in Louisiana we all love juicy booties, right? I don’t know he’s like an alligator floating down the bayou with the juicy booty and a devil’s tail!”

Caramonta struck gold with the little Jucifer devil guy, an unofficial mascot of the brewery, the can art has set the tone for the rest of the beers at Gnarly Barley. All of the cans are designed by Cari’s sister, Kaycie, who knows her art will go a long way to convincing some people to take their first sip.

“We pride ourselves on the liquid, the quality of the liquid, and the consistency of the liquid, but there is a connection to the customer,” Zac Caramonta said. “You got to make that connection first and they go into the market now that is becoming more and more saturated with breweries, local and regional. How do you make that initial connection to get them to pick up your product over someone else’s beer?”

Most of the time it’s with the taste, but in a world full of brews the art of the can may grab your attention before it hits your taste buds.

“We just want to have fun artwork that stands out on our cans, that makes you want to pick it up and try it and makes you want to continue drinking it too. Not just for the liquid, but because it’s got a pretty can,” Cari Caramonta said.

You can find the local breweries near you on the map below:

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