Pentagram’s identity for craft beer brewery EBBS takes characterful cues from the city of New York
In the face of convoluted, hectic and hackneyed craft beer brands, Williamsburg-based brewery EBBS stands against the tide; taking a pragmatic, uncomplicated and characterful approach to their identity – which was crafted with the help of Michael Bierut and his team at Pentagram in New York.
The stark identity is a showcase of how fun a fundamentally structured graphic system can be; providing a rigid framework for the typography to truly thrive, with the team electing for Original Sans as their primary typeface. “There is a crude irreverence to Original Sans,” Pentagram’s Jonny Sikov tells us, “that feels appropriate in the context of a New York-based brewery despite being a typeface with British origins.” Rampant in good humour and familiarity, Original Sans provides the identity with a flamboyant yet practical heart, leaving the supporting Caslon Doric Collection to act in a more utilitarian capacity. “Optical styles, such as Caslon Doric Condensed Text, became particularly useful for things like government warning labels,” Sikov explains, “where text sizes get small and real-estate is limited.”
Accompanying the type is the inclusion of equivalently stark and charming monochromatic illustrations from a dream team of collaborators, including Chris DeLorenzo, Lennard Kok, Pol Monserrat and Andreas Samuelsson. “The brief given to the illustrators was intentionally very open-ended,” Sikov explains, “there was a desire to treat the label as a sort of blank canvas, free for interpretation by different illustrators and artists,” prompting them to respond to the city around them. Given only the rule of working in black and white, Sikov adds “anything was fair game.”
Despite the limited colour palette and graphic rigidity, however, the identity is still brimming with character, both literally as a result of the illustrations, and conceptually – keeping true to its tagline “Born in Brooklyn, brewed for the people.”
Tributing the district and the brewery’s similarly candid, clear and charismatic attitude, the identity takes immediate cues from its geography – even with the name taking influence from the presence of the neighbouring rivers of New York as well as the home for Brooklyn Dodger’s Baseball team, Ebbets Field. Similarly stoic, EBBS threw jazzy names out of the window in the curation of their range, opting for the likes of Lager No. 1 and IPA No. 5, in a true encapsulation of the attitude behind EBBS and their identity. No frills. No nonsense. Very New York.