The Hidden Barrel Collection line of handcrafted beers began with an experiment from the creative brewers at AC Golden Brewing Co. (the craft incubator for MillerCoors). They brought together premium ingredients and aged the resulting brews in wooden barrels. And their hypothesis rang true: Maturing the beer up to a year would create robust flavor profiles.
So, for the recent introduction to the Hidden Barrel line, AC Golden wanted a label to tell the story of the beer’s meticulous aging process. They used Avery Dennison Fasson Cherry Veneer labeling material — made with real wood — as the storyteller.
“Just as the wood barrels add complexity and illuminate the flavors in the beer, the wood label illuminates the most intriguing points of our brand story,” said Glenn Knippenberg, president and co-founder of AC Golden. AC Golden is a small batch brewer and a brand incubator.
“The label reflects our product’s barrel-aging process and also signals to craft beer drinkers that our product is handcrafted for a unique experience,” Knippenberg said.
Fasson Cherry Wood is a smooth, real-wood veneer label material. The surface provides the texture of genuine wood and at the same time is smooth enough for printing and label converting.
AC Golden worked with converter Smyth Companies Inc. based in St. Paul, Minn., for the production of the Hidden Barrel label. Tim Klein, who operates in new business development at Smyth, said he worked with AC Golden to test several label materials for the handcrafted beers.
“We tested wood veneer patterns on white label substrates, which imitated the look of a real-wood label, but this option did not deliver the full impact of actual wood veneer,” Klein said. “The wood veneer provides the sensory experience and crisp visual detail that engages consumers at the shelf.”
The label features AT20N adhesive and a PET liner. It is printed on flexographic and UV digital ink jet presses — ideal for the short runs needed to label Hidden Barrel’s batches of approximately 1,100 bottles.
Matt Rompala, business development manager of wine and spirits at Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials-North America, said shelf appeal is increasingly important in the craft brewing segment as consumers look for visual clues on the beer’s flavor profile.
“With new brands entering the market every day, brewers are competing for customers’ attention at the shelf,” said Rompala. “Craft beer drinkers look for unique experiences — distinct flavor profiles and novel ingredients and brewing methods. Having visually defining labels, such as cherry wood, can help differentiate at the shelf, creating a powerful brand presence.”
The wood veneer label is featured on Framboise Noir, a Belgian-style ale aged in oak wine barrels with blackberries. The 1,110 750-mL bottles were distributed to craft-centric beer stores in the Greater Denver area and — like many beers in the Hidden Barrel collection — sold out in a matter of hours.
“Beer connoisseurs want to know the story behind their handcrafted beers, and the Hidden Barrel Collection has a dynamic story to tell,” Knippenberg said. “The wood veneer label on the Framboise Noir helped make that clear and our customers responded.”