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Cracking The Beer Code

Denmark’s TO ØL Brewery has released six beers whose names and labels touched off Da Vinci Code-level sleuthing on both sides of the Atlantic. The beers have names such as “Mr. Blue”, and strange alphanumeric symbols on the label: a letter, a colon, and digits.

It turns out that the alphanumeric characters represent Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Key symbols used for four-color process printing. For example, Mr. Blue’s C:98, M:8, Y:6, K:0 is the printing “recipe” for the color blue. Other colors in the series include Blonde, Brown, Orange, Pink, White, and a forthcoming Brown.

The mystery doesn’t end there. The beers’ colorful names are tied to the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs in which the gem thieves adopted the names of colors as their aliases.

Finally, the brewery’s name is part of the story. In Danish, “ØL” is similar to the English word ale. It’s also an abbreviated adaption of the brothers’ first names. In other words the name signifies, in English, “Two Founders, Two Beers”.

The Friday Mash (Xanadu Edition)

On this day in 1271, Kublai Khan of “stately pleasure dome” fame renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. The yuan is modern-day China’s monetary unit.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in Japan, where a local firm has teamed up with an Amsterdam-based renewables company to develop eco-friendly plastic beer bottles. They’re made from plant sugar rather than fossil fuels.

As competition grows more fierce, breweries are hiring artists, graphic designers, and even branding firms to create packaging that wins shelf space and attracts customers.

“Beer before whiskey” is risky, but not for the reasons you think. People drink faster as intake increases, whatever the beverage; and whiskey’s higher alcohol content compounds the effects.

Last weekend, Vancouver’s Storm Brewing unleashed its Glacial Mammoth Extinction beer. It’s Canada’s first beer above 25 percent ABV, and it isn’t cheap: a bottle will set you back C$1,000 ($730 U.S.).

Craft brewing’s success has created a problem: a shortage of cans, especially the 16-ounce cans that many crafts prefer to distinguish their product from national-brand beer.

Debrett’s, a British etiquette authority since 1769, has published a guide to proper beer-drinking. Among other topics, it covers proper pouring and tasting and how to behave decorously at the pub.

Finally, James Grugeon of Brisbane, Australia, is crowd-funding a brewery with a social purpose. Half the profits of his Good Beer Company will be donated to a conservation society trying to save the endangered Great Barrier Reef.

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