Aluminum cans were once the domain of mass-market brews, the kind of bland, economy lagers bought by the case. But over the last decade, brewers have embraced the can, filling the once-maligned vessels with juicy and aromatic IPAs, tingly sours, and barrel-aged stouts. Cans have gone from objects of derision to desire, fueled by both the liquid and the labels. Designers, illustrators, and artists have turned these aluminum canvases into handheld works of art, a rare analog experience in a digital era.
Instead of bottles, we’re palming cans, Instagram-age billboards that telegraph a brewery’s philosophy and set it apart. A few decades ago, simply making more flavorful beer was a big enough point of differentiation. Now that good beer is sold everywhere—at gas stations, sports bars, and four-star restaurants—brewers need to consider the whole package, nailing both the formula and branding alike. The best labels look as good as the beer tastes.
For Ceros, I rounded up 30 of the best canned-beer designs available in America, including quotes from many of top designers.