I’ve never designed a beer label myself, but I’d imagine it’s easy to get carried away. For instance, I like robots and surfing and early Val Kilmer movies. So why not craft a beer label that has a robot hanging 10 on a surfboard while shooting skeet as an obvious homage to Val Kilmer’s greatest role as Nick Rivers, the American rock star/spy in Top Secret!?
Of course, the label would be a disaster because there’s too much going on and only 17 people have ever seen the movie Top Secret!. I love a wild beer label, but sometimes restraint is the key to great art. And when every other brewery is putting M.C. Escher-like artwork on their beer cans, maybe taking it down a notch is a smart way to stand out on the shelves. How does the saying about Jazz go? It’s more about the notes you don’t play. So, with the spirit of subtlety in mind, we’re raising a glass to these eight beer labels, all of which are gorgeous examples of understatement and restraint.