A brewery reborn

Billson’s brewery has revealed its first alcoholic drinks for 70 years, with the launch of small batch craft beers, heritage beers and an alcoholic ginger beer.

These launches follow the 2018 launches of still and sparkling Alpine spring waters, traditional and contemporary cordials as well as ten contemporary and classic sodas.

Packaging design is critical in beer and we needed to find a way to convey the rich heritage of Billson’s, but in a way that would connect with a contemporary audience.

The craft beer designs draw inspiration from the brewery itself: a copper kettle for the Pale Ale can, the two chimneys for Lager, a 1950s Chevrolet truck for Golden Ale, and one of the brewery’s collection of horse-drawn carts on the Porter can. The story behind each item is told on the back of the cans, using no-nonsense, straight-talking words presented in a clean and simple sans serif font. The range is unified by the use of a vivid colour palette set against a tactile, matt finish silver.

The design of the heritage beers is a subtle reimagining of the original labels from 70 years ago. The most distinctive elements of these designs have been brought to the fore: the iconic ostrich and kangaroo appear on the Prize Ale, flags flutter proudly on the Stout label.

We took away the unnecessary elements, keeping only the parts that resonate today, and reworked them for a modern eye. We also retained a sense of imperfection with a nod to the original handcrafted label designs. It’s the contrast of this traditional Australian imagery against the silver cans, with the Billson’s logo written in confident, bold typography that makes these designs pop.

For both beer ranges, the brand mark ‘Billson’s’ is faithfully replicated on the cans, taken from the hand-painted branding that appears on the brewery building. The design mimics the huge confident type from that historic original, applying it as large as possible so that the branding wraps around the cans, giving them a super-confident feel.

The alcoholic ginger beer design has a traditional feel, but with a quirky Victorian twist. The label takes the oval shape and striking brand lettering of Billson’s traditional beers. Flames burst from the ears of a moustachioed man, reflecting the bold strapline: ‘refreshingly fiery’.