Pick your poison: 9 beautifully designed booze labels

South Africa is known for it’s wine, beer and expanding gin & tonic culture. On the production side, we make world-class wines and have a rapidly growing craft beer industry, and on the consumer side, we’re always ‘kuiering’ with mates over a beer, enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or after a hard days work, and have no shortage when it comes to choice of drink. It’s also pleasing when what we take pleasure in drinking not only tastes good but has excellent looks to boot. In celebration of Graphic Art Month, we bring you a selection of fetching design work found on alcohol labels bedecking local and international stores.

Cape Brewing Company by MUTI:

The IPA’s Cape of Good Hop Imperial and Bavarian Mandarina are designed by Jane Says with illustrations by MUTI, who were inspired by each ale’s unique history. For this project they deviated from the Cape Brewing Company’s solid colour block labels to include pattern details and cultural symbols. Cape of Good Hop uses an angry south easter as the central motif while Bavarian Mandarina has traditional Tryolean hats and pretzel details.


Stellies by MARK Studio

When a beer label shares the same name as the place it’s brewed in, it’s fitting for MARK studio to include natural elements which are synonymous with the student town, Stellenbosch. Hops, barley, infamous oak trees and squirrels are all part of the place and now significant symbols on this craft beer.

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Bonnie & Clyde by Pearly Yon:

Designer and Illustrator Simone Hodgskiss of Pearly Yon, took inspiration from the 1930s for the Belgium handcrafted gin label, Bonnie & Clyde. Much like gin – whether it’s “wild and sweet” or “sharp and fierce” – both labels are playful and sophisticated, reminiscent of an era of swing music, delta blues and Art Deco. 

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North Peak Brewing Company by Luke Oeth: 

One of the most successful brewing pubs in Michigan, The Northern United Brewing Company commissioned Luke Oeth to design their beer and ale labels. To blend in with the classic log cabin interior of the pub, Luke drew on the simplicity of vintage beer labels to create something that would blend into the cosy environment that pub visitors were familiar with.

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Second Self by Bianca Luyt

A mix of fairytale figures in medieval garb and a play on the alter-ego makes for an enticing label. Bianca Luyt used rich, bold colours to compliment the nature of red wine and was inspired by Second Life’s ability to make one’s daily “mask” fall away. Concealed beneath pretty faces are folklore creatures displaying another side to our daily selves.

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Sxollie by Kaeli Justus:

The slick packaging for Sxollie was designed by Kaeli Justus while working at Cow Africa, with creative direction from Charles Miller and Donald Swanepoel. “Sxollie is a brand that salutes the opportunistic and playful spirit of urban Africa,” says Charles. While the word ‘sxollie’ often has a negative connotation, here it’s used in an Afropolitan context celebrating creativity, the hustle and adaptability familiar to an urban youth, who set their own trends rather than following the crowd.

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Gnarr Scrumpy by Sean Hill: 

Sean Hill added a twist to the traditional habit of wrapping bottles in brown paper bags for Everson Cider’s limited edition of GnarrThe bag doubles up as a map showing the the Grabouw area where the cider is made. Like the drink that has notes of caramel and popcorn, the design is unusual and ballsy. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your phone doesn’t work but you don’t want to be alone at a bar, at least there’s a legitimate reason to be engrossed with a liquor label. 

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Dark Road by Louwrens Venter: 

For label inspiration Louwrens Venter used the legendary story told by micro brewery, Dark Road, which is situated on a local farm on the outskirts of Pretoria. Rumour has it that nearby, a small path next to a dilapidated barn is haunted by a sadistic farmer. The name Dark Road comes from those who to avoid supernatural encounters, run past the barn with their eyes closed and fingers crossed. 

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Liefling by Fanakalo: 

Fanakalo might call themselves a small design studio based in Stellenbosch, but they’ve come to dominate the local wine label design industry. Niche wine store, De Kleine Wijn Koöp, commissioned them to design their Syrah label, Liefling. Using orange, blue and white, they’ve created a detailed, enchanting label and despite depicting animals like birds and rabbits, which are associated with all things fluffy and cute, they’ve steered away from cliché and retained the essence of wine’s name. 


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