The Battle of the Brewery Brands Is BACK, Baby!!
Last year Schmoll Creative hosted Charleston’s inaugural Battle of Brewery Brands. We started with 16 incredible breweries from across the Charleston area. After four grueling rounds of single-elimination head-to-head matchups, Low Tide reigned supreme as the Best Branded Brewery in Charleston.
Now we’re BACK for a second year. And we’re shaking up the competition with a few key changes: This year 8 breweries will compete across 3 rounds. And what we’re judging on for each round is new as well:
• Round 1: Design and Deliciousness
• Round 2: Craft Creativity (Beer Names & Flavors)
• Finals: Merch & Magic (AKA In-Brewery Experience)
For the first round, eight of Charleston’s finest breweries were randomly paired for their matchups. Two beers were selected to represent each brewery. Four esteemed judges met to discuss can design and beer deliciousness.
Here’s a recap of how it all went down…
COAST – DESIGN:
- Although COAST uses different illustration styles across all of its cans, brand consistency still shines through with the lettering around the rim and a recognizable logo. Extra points for the Dead Arm illustration which depicts a skull within an ocean wave.
COAST – DELICIOUSNESS:
- COAST brought the heat to this battle with its 32°/50° Kolsch and Dead Arm APA. The tasters described the traditional style Kolsch (which is 99% organic) as smooth and very drinkable. Dead Arm, which is 97% organic, is a true APA, offering a light hoppiness without being overwhelmingly bitter.
Lo-Fi – DESIGN:
- The Miami Vice of beer branding, Lo-Fi’s distinct look and feel are hard to beat. The neon colors, retro fonts, and unicorn silhouettes create a striking visual striking continuity, and the tagline of “Pure Luxury” really takes it to another level.
Lo-Fi – DELICIOUSNESS:
- For Lo-Fi, our tasters sampled the Blueberry Wheat and Jacuzzi New England IPA. The Wheat offered a distinct blueberry smell and taste without being too sweet. We’d love to spend a summer afternoon sipping this one on a front porch. Aside from its awesome name, the Jacuzzi New England IPA fell a little flat for our tasters. Even with its hint of citrus, the hoppy but smooth IPA failed to leave a lasting impression.
SUMMARY: For the undeniable fabulousness of its brand combined with some deliciously drinkable beers, the winner of this round goes to Lo-Fi.
Palmetto – DESIGN:
- One of Charleston’s oldest and most well-known breweries, Palmetto’s branding brings those Holy City vibes. Beer cans demonstrate a lot of continuity with a templated design including the silhouetted palmetto tree, recognizable fonts, and a clear color palate.
Palmetto – DELICIOUSNESS:
- Representing Palmetto were the Amber Ale and Island Wit. Our tasting team described the amber as having a really nice malty flavor, great caramel color, and just the right amount of hops. More of a citrusy wheat beer, the wit was a little sweeter than expected, but still a nice light option.
Frothy Beard – DESIGN:
- Local artist Tami Boyce draws the adorable illustrations that can be found on Frothy’s branding and marketing materials, giving the brewery a recognizable and truely unique look. The cans use the main Frothy-man face over a printed background on the front and single-color beer-specific illustration on the back. Although we appreciate the consistency, we feel Frothy is missing an opportunity to use Tami’s more elaborate drawings and scenes for a little extra fun.
Frothy Beard – DELICIOUSNESS:
- Ties Irish-Style Red Ale and Sip Sip Pass New England Style IPA both stepped into the ring to represent the bearded brewery. Tasters found the red drinkable but a little boring. Sip Sip Pass went down super-smooth, almost like a session IPA. The citrus vibes make it the perfect summer sipper for IPA fans.
SUMMARY: Combining some of the Holy City’s tastiest hops with serious illustration talent, Frothy Beard takes the big V on this round.
WINNER: Frothy Beard
Freehouse – DESIGN
- Freehouse has updated its logo since last year’s competition and it’s a noticeable improvement. The new logo is simple, yet effective. The look of the cans, although highly consistent, is not super exciting.
Freehouse – DELICIOUSNESS:
- Folly’s Pride Blonde and Green Door IPA represented Freehouse, which is 100% organic, in this matchup. Reviews of Folly’s Pride Blonde were all over the map with some thinking it was a great light beer and others not finding it crisp enough to be refreshing. Quote of the night came from one taster who said “I’d fuck this beer if I’d already had too many beers.” Green Door, on the other hand, was consistently our highest rated IPA. Tasters noted the clean feeling on the palette and the perfect balance of bitterness and hops.
Revelry – DESIGN:
- Revelry has some of the best can artwork we’ve seen among local breweries. Just take a look at the T-Rex wearing swimming fins, carrying a lifesaver, wearing a puka shell necklace with a towel draped over his tail for the Kook-Asauraus Kolsch. Although the vastly varied illustrations leave us hunting to find continuity across styles of beer, we still like it because Revelry just owns it.
Revelry – DELICIOUSNESS:
- After sipping both the Kook-Asaurus Kolsch and Poke the Bear American Pale Ale, our judges weren’t blown away by either style. The Kolsch brought some interest with cherry-vanilla vibes, but tasters felt it lost points in not tasting like a kolsch. Poke the Bear offers a little hoppy bitterness, but we felt the beer did not live up to the mouth-watering description.
SUMMARY: Despite a great fight put up by its competitor, Revelry reigns victorious through round 1 for a commitment to visual interest and bold creativity.
Westbrook – DESIGN:
- One of Charleston’s more established breweries, Westbrook delivers on can design in terms of interest and continuity. Using the same banners, templated layouts, and similar illustration styles, it’s particularly easy to pick a Westbrook beer out of a lineup. More impressively, the Mt. P-based brewery still manages to keep designs unique and flexible.
Westbrook – DELICIOUSNESS:
- Representing Westbrook in this matchup was Citrus Redacted IPA and Dark Helmet Black Lager. The tasters found the Citrus Redacted super easy to drink, living up to its name with a juicy and citrusy flavor. Tasters also noted this one landed on the smoother side for an IPA, perhaps due to a seemingly weak level of carbonation. Despite its ominous can graphics and name, Dark Helmet was really easy to drink. Tasters described it as malty but smooth with great color, great malty flavor, and great carbonation.
Holy City – DESIGN:
- Holy City delivers interest with its can designs, which all feel different yet still part of the same family. High-detail illustrations and a highly recognizable logo help pull the brand through across beer styles.
Holy City – DELICIOUSNESS:
- For this matchup we tasted the much-loved Chucktown Follicle Brown and the Paradise Session IPA. We gave Follicle Brown extra points for having the best Charleston reference in its name in addition to its good aroma, rich color, and smooth nutty taste. The session IPA, which had bitterness without being overly hoppy, seemed like the perfect beach beer for an IPA fan.
SUMMARY: With two of our tasters’ favorite beers competing in the match-up, Holy City takes this round by a hoppy hair.
WINNER: Holy City
Tune in next month for the second round where we’ll be on the hunt for Craft Creativity as we judge who has the most tempting, clever, interesting, and original beer flavors out of this round’s four winners.