In its 27th year, the BYO Label Contest continues to grow not just in reach (which spans the globe) and number of submissions (that take us hours to organize for online voting), but, we’d argue, in quality as well.
With so many labels to look at, it is often the subtle elements that land labels on our list of top entries: Colors that complement each other, fonts that are sharp and easy to read, creative beer names, and on and on. But this year, judges also put an emphasis on original artwork. Not to say there is anything wrong with grabbing an image from the web for your homebrews, but originality really made our top prize-winning labels stand out. Each was created for the specific label it adorns, and it goes to show that artistic abilities go hand-in-hand with the art of brewing (at least for these homebrewers)!
We hope you enjoy the labels we chose as much as we enjoyed judging them. Keep the creativity flowing and we’ll keep welcoming submissions for this annual contest. We’d also like to raise a glass to all of the sponsors who generously donated prizes for the winners; this competition wouldn’t be the same without their support year-after-year!
Joe and Frank are “a guy and his dog brewing mediocre beer,” according to the label. We can’t vouch for the beer, but there definitely isn’t anything mediocre about the labels the duo are making! The winning label for Down by the River American Pale Ale won by unanimous decision. In fact, there was more discussion amongst judges choosing which Frank & Co. Brewing label deserved top honors than anything else. “Almost every label showcases some version of Frank with his dopey tongue hanging out, and almost every label has a backstory stemming from the past decade-plus that Frank and I have spent together trying to figure out life,” Joe says. While there were many to choose from, there is just something about a dog enjoying a cold beverage while tubing down a river that connected with all of us at BYO. And don’t overlook that van, down by the river.
Kong’s Barrel Mayhem (the beer and the label) is part of a series. This version was brewed when Renato and Guilherme got their hands on an 8-gallon (30-L) whiskey barrel from a local distillery and filled it with their favorite imperial stout recipe. Wanting to do the beer justice, the homebrewers worked with a Brazilian artist to create the original artwork (the same artist had created a label for another version of Kong as well — both of which came out great!).
Beer, meet coffee. Coffee, meet beer. We think the two of you will hit it off just fine. Jeff comes up with the idea for his labels and then a friend of his son draws the image and his son brings them to life on a computer. The hop character is featured on many of Jeff’s labels, often playing the drums as Jeff does. But even drumming hops gotta kick back with friends sometimes, even if those friends are coffee beans.
The original artwork for this label was created by Allan’s son, James, and fits with the name he gave his homebrewery: The Whistling Frog. “Homebrewing is a fun, inventive, and creative activity . . . and the name epitomizes these characteristics. The amphibian is well-known for its love of hops and one that could whistle would be highly inventive!” James initially hand-drew elements of the label and then created the rest using design software.
Amy draws her label images in the digital illustration app Procreate and completes them in Canva. Pool Daze New England IPA was brewed for those hot summer days sitting around the pool with friends and the label certainly hits the mark for a beer with a summer vibe. Adding to the fun of this label, Amy says there are actually two labels for this beer — each four-pack has three cans with a pink inner tube and one lucky drinker gets the unicorn float.