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Design in Dayton: An Exploration of Warped Wing’s Beer Can Design

Over the years, wine bottle designs have been an important part of a designer’s world. In design school, this was a standard project doled out by professors to encourage “sky’s the limit” ideas. We would use different printing techniques to craft beautiful packaging to lure consumers to purchase the product.

Who would have thought that 25 years later, the resurgence of craft beer would bring such revolutionary design to the world of hops and barley? Beer can design is a craft in itself. Like many other consumers, I will sometimes purchase a beer based on “coolness factors” like the name and label. The marketing behind these products is bar none—from naming, illustration, ad campaigns, social media content, and incorporation into local bars and eateries. This is a very calculated marketing effort, but one that seems so casual to consumers.

Warped wing can body image

One brewery that does design well is Warped Wing Brewery in Dayton, Ohio, home of LMG. Warped Wing pays homage to local inventors, settlers, and landmarks, using them as inspiration for beer can designs. The company is winning awards for its ingenious design, which draws on the skills of Cincinnati illustrator John Pattison. His creative direction produces stunning artwork that spans several cans to create a masterpiece. When the cans are placed together, they create a pattern to reveal the cohesive illustration.

LMG Results image of 3 warped wing cans on the rooftop terrace

My favorite design is for Ermal’s, a Belgian cream ale that nods to Ermal Fraze of Dayton Reliable Tool Company (inventor of the pull-top can). It is not only my favorite can, but also my favorite beer. And my favorite way to enjoy a cold Ermal’s is during a visit to Warped Wing’s brewery and restaurant. I encourage you to check out the cool industrial atmosphere, with breakaway doors, picnic table seating, oversized Jenga, high ceilings, and views of the brewing process.

LMG Results Image of Warped Wing Building

I wish I was back in school again coming up with a creative beverage name and illustrating a container. Maybe in the future, professors will switch from the standard wine bottle design exercise and ask students to design craft beer cans. I’ll drink to that!

Melissa Sass +