Best of the Brewers Journal


Back when travelling was still a thing, we journeyed from Glasgow to Leeds on a beer-filled adventure. Joining our pals Tim & Jon at Brewer’s Journal, we gave a talk at their Brewers Lectures series. We jump at the chance to speak at these events. There’s always a great crowd and we get to be starstruck by our favourite brewers. (Yes there is a free bar, but it’s not just about that, thank you).

It’s also a great opportunity for us amateur beer lovers to learn a few things from the experts. Here’s a round up of some nuggets from the day.


1. The future is NALAB

brewers journal - lallemand

Robert Percival from Lallemand loves talking about sugar structures. He kicked off the day by introducing my clueless self to a new phrase: NALAB. For all you fellow beer newbies out there, that is No Alcohol or Low Alcohol Beer. As the current culture shifts towards more healthy lifestyle choices (mindful drinking, balanced with sport and fitness) more and more breweries are opting to produce beer that is Better For You.

Erdinger (my placebo beer of choice during Dry January) have been running this angle for a while—focusing on the isotonic properties of their beer and even sponsoring sporting events. Having said that, I didn’t see a single hand go up when Robert asked how many folk were currently cooking up a NALAB product. So, either it’s not catching on quite yet…Ooooor everyone is pretending it’s not catching on yet.


2. Bigger isn’t always better

brewers journal - northern monk

With such a saturation of craft breweries out in the world at the moment, it’s easy for smaller breweries to feel the need to up the ante. Grow grow grow and sell sell sell. However, Luca Lorenzi, director of growth at Northern Monk, turned this idea on its head by asking the audience to first ‘define what growth means to you’. Then get a good team around you to help make that happen. For Northern Monk, that led to pretty much doubling their sales for the past three years, whilst keeping community and family at the forefront of their journey.


3. Craft = Community

brewers journal - brooklyn brewery

At the Brewer’s Congress event we attended, we got schooled by Gabe Barry from Brooklyn Brewery in the history of all things beer and community. This time around, she emphasised how breweries can serve their communities, acting as a platform for bringing folk together. Craft is more than just brewing beer, it’s creating a space to build a community. Now it’s time to bring people in and diversify who gets to be a part of that. With breweries leading the way and changing the world for the better. In conclusion, this made me want to start a brewery immediately.


4. If in doubt, DIY.

brewers journal - pressure drop

After we took to the stage to reveal our top tips for designing a beer brand, Sienna O’ Rourke from Pressure Drop followed up. Sienna shared her own play on the top tips she used to create a striking identity for Pressure Drop in-house. Pressure Drop had a turbulent start as an emerging North London brewery and Sienna came on board to pull their visual identity and marketing together with a DIY approach. She established a bright and bold style, creating photos, artwork, collages in-house with the wider team to build a robust look that fits the bill for the ethos of the brewery. Showing that to find your vibe, sometimes you need to look inwards first.


5. Beer Goes Beyond Beer

brewers journal – cloudwater

The final speaker for the day was Paul Jones from Cloudwater. Everything he said transformed the audience from beer-drinking brewers to enlightened pioneers. We didn’t even get the chance to take notes on what that involved. Sorry, you just had to be there.

Ultimately, we go to these events aware that our knowledge of beer and brewing only extends to a small area of the industry, and we learn more every time. It’s a great atmosphere, with most craft breweries more than willing to share their story, learnings and give a leg up to the next craft brewer along the road. Or even the knowledge hungry design studio round the corner.

This system of support and community feels more important than ever in this bonkers climate we find ourselves in. Many of these breweries are independently owned, with small teams, who will seriously feel the impact of closed up pubs and tap rooms over the next few weeks. If you feel like getting stocked up whilst you sit in your pyjamas on zoom calls, here’s a helpful list of how you can do exactly that.

Northern Monk have discounts across their cans and cases of Faith on their online shop. Plus for every 12 pack sold Northern Monk are donating £3 to the NHS to support their work on the frontline. Keep the Faith indeed!

Pressure Drop are championing their community and reaching out to support business that will be affected by COVID too. They’ve created a pay it forward scheme—for every order of 15 cans or more they will pay forward £25 in credit to the independent pub, restaurant or retail outlet of your choice. Awesome.

Cloudwater have teamed up with local business Higher Ground to offer veg box delivery and tasty vegan meals through their site.

Brooklyn Brewery are doing an awesome job of sharing resources to support NYC communities and you can still grab your fix from BeerHawk if you aren’t stateside.

Yeastie Boys are offering shipping in the UK for all their beers. Plus they are donating £2 from every single case they sell to #COVID19 Emergency Appeal—a fund to provide grants to hospitality workers suddenly facing hardship. Absolute champs.

North Brewing have an awesome 20% discount for NHS workers and free local deliveries!

You may also have seen a taster of our upcoming rebrand for Stewart Brewing… Their current beer labels are about to become vintage collectables, quick—order up!

Fyne Ales are also keeping Scotland well supplied, with regular offers and discounts on their beautiful designed (ahem) online shop. You can currently get 12 x 330ml bottles of Perfect Silence for £25.

And if you can’t choose, there’s always beer box deliveries that do the choosing for you. Like Honest Brew, Hoppily, BeerBods or Beer52, who even do a cool mag to supplement your beer knowledge too.

So, cheers to that! I’m off to buy more beer.

We Got a Lyn


O Street is very, very pleased to officially announce the addition of Lyn Cunningham to our team. Lyn is an experienced designer who brings an expansive breadth of material and digital knowledge, as well as a sharp eye and clean graphic sensibility.

At O Street, Lyn will be designing, managing projects, and putting out fires. Her beautiful work at Suisse and her own company, Matinée, speaks for itself:

Lyn adores dogs and has the coolest car you’ve ever seen. We can’t wait to see what we create alongside her.

NTS all engines go



credit: Hoskins Architects

O Street was invited down to the new digs of one of our favourite collaborators, National Theatre of Scotland . We loved the company (although stiff gin pours and BrewDog beers didn’t hurt). The building, designed by Hoskins Architects, embodies the NTS brand of being a ‘Theatre Without Walls’. It was a thrill to see this new engine of Scottish theatre at work.


credit: Hoskins Architects


We started in the bar, er, playroom, for some banter, and quickly moved on to explore the building.

The new NTS rehearsal room is one of the biggest in Scotland, and inspires cartwheels and bellowing vocals upon entry.


credit: Hoskins Architects


It was all eyes on the stunning costume department, which no longer operates from a small room and a parking lot.

IMG_8667 IMG_8672

It was particularly exciting to get the low-down on how technicians set the mood and ‘paint’ with light.


The props department was much more exciting than this, but leave it to a graphic designer to only take a photo of old oven dials.


O Street was reunited with a leftover from our NTS collaboration Granite—always nice to see an old friend.

All told, NTS Rockvilla is a stunning display of creativity and production. Get down and see for yourself.

ms erica, do you have a soul?


Where is Ms Ericas soul

Q: ‘Erica-san ni wa kokoro wa arun desu ka?’

A: ‘Ee?’


Q: ‘Ms Erica, do you have a soul?’

A: ‘What?’

Cryptic, yes, but Erica is a humanoid robot who looks and sounds a like a real person. ‘She’ has been created at Tokyo’s Miraikan—the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation—where she’s currently meeting the world’s press. However, it transpires from the ensuing questioning that Erica’s programmers haven’t yet included what it means to be human, which is probably just as well. Give them time, though, and maybe when they’ve cracked it a soul won’t be necessary…



infographic bomb


There is a very interesting piece in the papers this morning about the alleged exaggeration by Benjamin Netanyahu of Iran’s nuclear capability in 2012. I’ll leave the politics to the more informed commentators, but would like to comment on the lesson to be learned by us graphic designers.

Many journalists are now ridiculing the use of a comedy bomb to illustrate his point but how many took this stance when he first used it? The impact of using such a powerful visual trick to strike fear into millions of people cannot be underestimated.

‘Infographics’, ‘visual information’, ‘content management’… whatever you want to call it, has the ability to turn complex, boring and in this case ‘false’ information into bone fide ‘talked-about’ fact. Making information engaging on a visual, almost subliminal, manner allows it to enter our consciousness effortlessly.

I’m not condoning using this to enable us to lie to people—but the next time one of your clients wants to communicate a complicated or hard-to-believe fact to its audience, why not try an infographic?

power of design


If ever there was an example of the power of design I think it is the story in todays papers about the success of the ‘generic packaging’  initiatives for cigarettes in Australia. Although, opposed by many when first suggested, the initiative now not only has a growing support, but it has also helped reduce the uptake of smoking by young people, with no increase in illicit sales of cigarettes (the argument used by many to prevent state control of things like tobacco, alcohol and drugs).

There are many political and health lessons to be learned from this story, we’ll leave that for the proper news, but what about the lessons it tells about design?

Taking away the ability for the brands to shape the design of their packs has impacted on their overall sales, most notable in uptake by new consumers. It has also prevented the products to differentiate from one another, the ‘unique brand personality’ can now only be experienced in the consumption (no longer the way it looks). They’ve been hobbled!

It is important that as designers we realise the power we wield. The ability for good design to make people want to try, taste, drink or consume a product for the first time.