Though Great Lakes Brewing revamped their beer labels in 2015, the artwork still resonates on a historical level. This is largely because of artist Darren Booth, who was tasked with reinventing the face of this 32-year-old Cleveland-based brewery. Booth worked with artifacts provided by Great Lakes, many of which he scanned and physically incorporated into the paintings, using multiple layers of collage pieces to enhance the texture, and—as he describes it, to “add richness to the color palates, and create a stage for the artifacts to appear on.” The results still jump out on the crowded shelves, and practically beg for a larger landscape in which to appreciate all the details he’s incorporated. Oh, and of course the beer is pretty damn good, too. Here are a handful of our favorite Great Lakes Brewing labels.
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Burning River Pale Ale
In commemoration of when Cheveland's Cuyahoga River actually caught fire in 1969 due to excessive pollution, the Burning River label uses bold orange and red flames in the foreground (with news clippings from that time layered into the graphic). In the background, the city skyline, including the Detroit-Superior Bridge. Booth actually incorporated some of the signatures from the 1972 Clean Water Act, the law triggered by that infamous fire.
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Eliot Ness Amber Lager
It comes off as the perfect touch of irony to name-check the most famous agent of prohibition on a beer label. Ness would probably even like this smooth lager, but the 6.1% ABV would haunt him.
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Edmund Fitzgerland Porter
Named after the American Great Lakes freighter that sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, this porter offers a bittersweet tribute to the lost crew. All 29 perished (which is why that number appears on the label), and the boat remains the largest to have sunk in the Great Lakes.
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Conway's Irish Ale
Great Lake founders—and brothers—Patrick and Daniel Conway honor their Irish heritage with this, an Irish Ale named after their grandfather and policeman. The green panels in the background capture a few of those brewery artifacts like immigration papers, a semaphore (used to direct traffic), and the steeple of St. Malachi Parish, close to Conway's traffic beat.
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Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale
Nosferatu—released in 1922, arguably the first vampire film and still today one of the most influential silent horror films—feels like the perfect name for a beer that comes with serious teeth. The Imperial Red comes with a big 8% ABV, with a ruby-red color and a toasty malt body. It drops each fall, just in time for Halloween.
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Blackout Imperial Stout
This beer was named after a massive blackout that happened in 2003, which affected 55 million and stretched throughout parts of the Midwest, Northeast, and the Canadian province of Ontario. The cause? Reportedly a software bug that triggered the collapse of an entire grid. The shooting star on the label references the one that Pat Conway witnessed that fateful August night.