Many craft brewers take circuitous career routes. Cory King, owner of Maplewood, Mo.-based Side Project Brewing, is no exception. Winemaking was King’s original path, and it was where he developed an affinity for aging spirits in oak barrels. When King’s brother-in-law introduced him to homebrewing, his focus shifted, leading to a professional gig at Perennial Artisan Ales. While there, he started his own brewery in 2014. It was, literally, his “side project.”

Today, Side Project Brewing is a hidden gem in the greater St. Louis area. King and his staff create unique varieties of beer tied together by a common theme: oak barrel aging. Passion, experimentation and patience drive the creation of Side Project’s rustic farmhouse ales, wild ales and spirit barrel-aged ales.


Presentation counts

King also takes great pride in Side Project’s bold label and package design. He recognizes the importance of design in the overall experience for the drinker. “We know it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts,” King says. “But we also appreciate how a bottle is presented. Its label and packaging keep the customer remembering what they tasted.”

Tim Bottchen, art director for Side Project Brewing adds: “We grapple back and forth on what looks good and what doesn’t. But at the end of the day, Cory has me drive the label designs.”

A bold label presentation — both the design and the label material — counts for a lot; It creates a more memorable drinking experience and can even alter a consumer’s perception of a beer’s value. Recent research by the Clemson University CUshop Consumer Experience Laboratory shows that beer labels printed on higher-end materials likely are perceived as more expensive than those with paper labels.


Brewer, printer partners

Side Project’s printer, Prime Package and Label, is a key collaborator. Based in St. Louis since 2001, the company produces labels for some of the largest beverage producers in the world. It serves the craft beer market with its digital printing capabilities, offering the ability to do affordable short runs and produce high-quality registration for unique pressure-sensitive label designs.

“Side Project Brewing works closely with all of our departments,” says Adam Heissler, account manager for Prime Package and Label. “We are run on solid partnerships, and everyone at our company has a true stake in the client. Side Project is a solid St. Louis brand that we can enhance with our printing capabilities.”

Bottchen adds: “Prime Package and Label truly is a partner. They bring us outstanding material options so we can see what works on our bottles. One of our finest is the label for our Double Barrel Derivation beer. With an [embossment] and hot foil stamp, it has simplicity and elegance all in one label.”

For Side Project’s Double Barrel Derivation, Prime Package and Label recommended the Avery Dennison Black Vellum stock material. “In a sea of color, sometimes lack of color can be the most powerful visual,” says Tim Bohlke, marketing innovation manager for Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials – North America. “Every color tries to be the ‘new black,’ but consumers still keep coming back to the original trend setter. Black paper labels make a bold statement of contemporary design.”


Portfolio offers variety

The paper stock used for the Double Barrel Derivation label is Fasson 60# Black Vellum, a product within the Avery Dennison craft beer portfolio. The portfolio offers brewers, designers and printers the artistic freedom and flexibility needed to succeed in the craft market, the company says.

Brewers can choose from a wide selection of metallized, wood veneer, clear and traditional face-stocks. These pressure-sensitive constructions can be designed and cut in numerous ways. They’re also easier to apply and changeover than cut-and-stack labels — a definite advantage for the brewer bringing multiple beers to the space throughout the year.

Avery Dennison pressure-sensitive label products can be used on 12-ounce, 22-ounce and 750-ml bottles; growlers; 32-ounce cans; keg wraps; keg collars; tap handles; and more. BI

This article was previously published in the May issue of BrandPackaging, a sister publication of Beverage Industry.