Wednesday, October 2, 2013


And sometimes you drink a beer just because you like the look of it. I don’t even necessarily mean the look of the beer, sometimes just the look of the bottle and label is enough.  Take this one here; Stolichnoe, product of Russia, brewed in Moscow by Ochakovo.

The label says it’s a premium lager, though I suspect there’s no official definition of “premium.” I actually thought it tasted of virtually nothing whatsoever, scarcely even of beer, and I read a couple of reviews at one said “Bad stuff,” another said “Terrible stuff.”  They won’t get much of an argument from me. 

But I’m still left with a love for love that label (it comes in various versions): Soviet Constructivism with a hint of Metropolis: all very knowing I assume, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they'd employed some American marketing company to design the label for them.  Is an eye-catching label a good enough reason enough to buy a product?  Well no, probably not.  Looks aren’t everything, but they’re definitely something.

Years ago, when I was doing the only professional cooking job I’ve ever had, as relief chef on Monday nights in a pub/restaurant in Cambridge, the loathsome manager handed down his wisdom, “If you’ve got a full plate and it looks all right you can get away with murder.”   I was very green, and barely knew how to cook, but I could tell this was very bad and wrong.  I can’t tell you how delighted I was that the manager got sacked before I did.

I can’t absolutely swear what’s going on in that factory type thing in the picture at the top of this post – I suspect they’re not actually making beer; but the current Ochakovo brewery looks like this - that's quite industrial chic, no?


  1. It's funny you should mention beer labels. I just recently spent an inordinate amount of time selecting a "pick-your-mix" pack from a local establishment known for its variety of beers. Beyond identifying the variety of beer contained in the bottle, the labels provide precious little information but I pondered each selection as if I could determine the quality based on graphic design. Beer seems to be the only product with which I do this. Odd.

    Lucky for me, both Flying Dog Brewery's partnership with Ralph Steadman and Ommengang's penchant for more classic designs led me down some rather tasty paths.

    1. Thanks Eric - yes there's no doubting the seductive powers of the beer label - - I agree about the Steadman, and have you seen Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale - the label shows Thelonius Monk drinking beer and holding a skull. I'm not sure the beer quite lives up to the label, but then how could it?

    2. That is a truly great label, and I'm a fan of abbey ales, so I am definitely going to have to seek that one out. Thanks for the tip!