Tanner Groehler
Multimedia Designer

Clutch Brewing Company

Winter 2020 | Branding, Package Design, Product Dev

In the winter of 2020, Clutch Brewing Company in St. Paul faced a challenge amidst Covid lockdowns. Their taproom, open just a few years before, had to shut down counter service. Before, they only sold beers at the taproom and never considered can distribution. So, their early can runs were not designed for the competitive beer market. With Covid closures, they needed to introduce appealing can designs that could compete in a crowded market as soon as possible.

The unique challenge was that it was a two-pronged project;

1. They wanted a new template for the cans that would make them easier to navigate while also providing as much open space as possible for collaboration with other artists on future brews.

2. A brand new bespoke look for each of their flagship beers

Previous label before re-design

After taking a look at the old labels - we decided to take some pieces that were working and leave the rest behind for a more art-forward can that will  increase both liquor store sales and brand equity. I went to several liquor stores around town and walked the beer isles for a while to see what was catching my eye and, more importantly, what wasn’t.

The first problem I noticed was that when I was looking for a beer the art would draw me in first. But, these are 4 packs of craft beers selling at $15-20 so if I couldn't quickly find key information like ABV, beer type, or flavor notes, I'd move on. 

Newly designed label template

We landed on a solution that accomplished everything we wanted; clear and easy-to-navigate information hierarchy, plenty of room for art, and clear branding. Plus the new labels had the bonus of being easier to face once it was distributed to liquor stores now that the “front face” was doubled. 

Now the fun part starts.

I tried not to over-intellectualize the designs. Some of them were informed by conversations with Clutch co-owners Max and Jordan and staff, while others were informed either by my own experience with the brew or just something I wanted to see on a shelf. Flavor notes often helped dictate the color - more fruit-forward brews getting more colorful treatment and vice versa.

Ruff Day American Porter - Featuring co-owner Jordan’s dog, Levi

Lil Phily Pilsner - a beer named after Phil Gagne, the last head brewer at the old Schmidt brewery where Clutch was located. Phil was something of a mentor to Max & Jordan so this can paid homage to the local legend.

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