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2021 Label Contest Winners

With restrictions in place for much of the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people had a lot more time on their hands for activities like homebrewing, watching television, and designing homebrew labels. And if the medal-winning labels from this year’s Homebrew Label Contest proved anything, it may be that many of our readers did all three! The top labels include pop culture references to music (Tyler, the Creator), animated sitcoms (The Simpsons), mockumentary sitcoms (The Office), and video games (Punch Out). They also showed off some serious artistic ability and creativity, which is what this contest — now in its 26th consecutive year running — is all about. In addition to our medal-winners, check out the Reader’s Choice label and all of the Honorable Mention labels on the following pages. 

As always, a huge thanks goes out to our incredible sponsors for donating prizes, and our readers who submitted hundreds of labels!

GRAND

Steve Morren • Hudsonville, Michigan
Having brewed more than 100 beers, each with their own label, Steve has quite the experience designing homebrew labels. That experience has paid off! Judges actually went back and forth between two of his labels, either of which could have won the Grand prize. In the end, we settled on the fun Cherry Bomb label, appreciating that Steve used the cherries that paint northern Michigan red each summer for this homebrew. Everything about the Cherry Bomb label feels like it could adorn a can of craft brew, including the homebrewery logo for Outside the Box Brewing Co. We’ll take one!

GOLD

Kelly Pearsall • Seattle, Washington
These are actually three equally great labels, but we felt responsible to share them all with our readers. “When my husband, Russell, took a crack at his first Flanders red ale, we immediately thought of the Simpsons quote “Stupid Sexy Flanders!” Elements of the recipe, including corn, grain, and hops decorate Flanders in the Art Nouveau style of infusing flowing flora and natural objects into the design. The image was hand drawn and then vectored in Adobe Illustrator,” says Kelly. 
So why three labels? “When Stupid Sexy Flanders was removed from the 15-gallon (57-L) Bourbon barrel, 5 gallons (19 L) were then aged on raspberries, and five on zante currants. These iterations were naturally Ned Flanders’ two sons, Rod and Todd,” Kelly says.

SILVER

Robert Holcomb • Wylie, Texas
We’ve got a lot of fans of The Office in the BYO office, so when this label came in it got us all laughing. While the joke within the label is classic, a good joke doesn’t get you a Silver prize by itself. The color scheme, font, and simple design with Dwight Schrute’s signature tie all make this label stand out.  In fact, we think the design would even make the artistic Pam Beasley proud. 

BRONZE

Travis Cherry • Friendswood, Texas
If you are a homebrewer of a certain age, then this label will surely take you back! We’ll let Travis, who has a rotating theme for his labels each year (2021 being the original Nintendo) explain exactly how much work went into creating it. “Scouring the internet trying to find photos and characters from a video game released back in 1987 proved to be a very hard and time-consuming task. Then trying to cut out each character and fit all of these on a label was also no small feat. What I ended up with though is nostalgic and takes me back to my ten-year-old self, busting King Hippo in the gut with a left jab.”

READER’S CHOICE

Mike Lanzafame • Springfield, New Jersey
Created entirely with original art, Mike’s homage to Clyde Drexler received the most “likes” in our Facebook poll among potential Reader’s Choice winners. “Clyde was explosive. Clyde was dynamic. Clyde was a legend. A 10-time NBA all star, an NBA champion (sadly not with the Blazers), and an Olympic gold medalist. His ability to shoot, dish, and take it to the hole for a monster jam proved that Clyde was better than Terry Porter,” Mike says.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Elias Brice • Columbus, Ohio

Mary Kate Cuccari • Millvale, Pennsylvania
Grant Cummings • Elmore, Ohio
Matt Ellis • Frankenmuth, Michigan
Martin Gagne • Quebec City, Quebec
Aaron Gurley • Olathe, Kansas
David Hopkins • Whyalla, South Africa
Mike Maas • Prescott, Arizona
Mike McGuire • Warren, Michigan
Patric Monien • Bremischen, Germany
Eric Muhlheim • Hancock Park, California
Luis Pires • Coimbra, Portugal
Ivica Stanekovic • Varazdin, Croatia
Dexter Steven • Marquette, Michigan
Artur Szudrowicz • Opale, Poland

Issue: November 2021