Labeling a brew 

Eye-catching Brugge labels

This fall, a choice of five Brugge beers will be the newest Indiana brews available at your nearest retail outlet, with labels intended to engage your immediate attention if you haven’t sampled the specialties at Brugge Brasserie in Broad Ripple. If you’re already a regular, designer Josh Lingenfelter wants to assure you what’s in the bottle is every bit as worthy as what comes out of the spigots at the bar and eatery at 1011 E. Westfield Blvd.

“Designing Brugge beer bottle labels has become a delicate balance of simultaneously growing a new market and maintaining brand loyalty. I’ve been doing a lot of research,” admitted Lingenfelter the younger, who is the L.A.-based half of the father-son Five2Five Design Studio LLC. Jim Lingenfelter continues to maintain the Indianapolis studio.

“Furthermore, because beer labels are collectibles, the factor of permanency gave me a little anxiety. The other design work I do is basically ephemeral,” Josh added during a telephone interview.

It’s not so much a competition as a desire to be outstanding in a fairly crowded field, Josh explained. The logo and how it’s presented essentially define the company, so choices for colors, typeface and method of production can’t be random.

Plain printed beer labels originated in the 1840s along with a growing bottling industry. Around the 1860s, logos began to appear. Soon after, original works of art became standard on labels. That led to bottle label collecting along with coasters, mirrors, posters and bottle caps.

Traditionally, beer labels either trumpet style/ingredients (for Brugge beer, it’s Belgian and wheat), location of the brewery (being Indiana-based) or lifestyle (Brugge invites us to be adventurous, smart, discerning). Josh is pushing the limits of convention. When unveiled this fall, expect something spectacular.

Josh Lingenfelter is a member of the Broad Ripple High School group supporting master brewer Ted Miller, who’s been operating Brugge since 2005. For the Brasserie, Josh created the original brand design seen on signage, T-shirts, tableware and menus. For the bottle labels, Josh is extending the burst of petals to reflect a new venture growing out of the essence of an already established product.

“It all has to tie together. The bottle label has to evoke the vision of the company.”

The vision, according to Miller and Charlie Midgley, Brugge’s marketing director, boils down to, “We have a responsibility to our friends. We will never restrict our, or their, creative side. Everyone is part of an ongoing ‘something new.’”

Thus, five distinct Belgian styles — namely Black, White, Sacre fleur saison, Trippel de Ripple and Dubbel — will always be on tap at the Brasserie and in bottles and kegs as “The Blue Line.”

“Our customer base expects these staples to be in stores. On the other hand, we have to allow for experimentation and artistry. That’s the ‘Special Line,’ seasonals, brewer’s whims and the barrel-aged series of super-high-end brews that will be hand bottled and corked after aging for one to five years,” Miller explained.

Brugge beer will be bottled on the premises of the Terre Haute Brewery established in 1837. “We’ve bought only the physical plant, not the historic name and label of the second oldest continuously operating U.S. brewery,” Miller emphasized.

“Nevertheless, what we’re doing reeks of history,” Midgley said. “Old and new co-mingling. It’s history in transition, and that’s equally reflected in our labels.”

A half-continent away, a Hoosier in absentia is toiling to meet high expectations.

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About The Author

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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