How to put a woman on a beer label

It’s the pressing issue that so many breweries get wrong.

By Emily Day

Every now and then a beer label pops up that makes you roll your eyes and go… really? And you’re transported back to the dark old days when women in the industry were relegated to being either silent servers or coquettish eye candy. Luckily, those times have changed (lol, I think) and there are more and more women killing it in every aspect of the brewing industry.

As someone who spends a lot of time in bottle shops gawking at the new stuff, salivating over my favourites and occasionally rolling my eyes, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the breweries who depict women on their beer labels in a positive and awesome way (yes, it can be done!) Here are our Top 5.

Brewery: CoConspirators Brewing Co (VIC)
Beer: ‘The Matriarch’ New England IPA
This juicy NEIPA is an absolute ripper, and what makes it even better is the eye-grabbing tinnie featuring a haughty septuagenarian with a no-nonsense attitude ‒ basically she’s Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom and I am slightly terrified of her. Congratulations CoConspirators (and designer Clint Weaver) for featuring not only a woman, but the oft-overlooked older woman, as the face of this ripper brew.

Brewery: Garage Project (NZ)
Beer: ‘Hunnybee’ Honey Wheat Farmhouse Ale
Kiwi brew stars Garage Project love to create stunning beer labels and it’s hard to pick a female-focused favourite from their fabulous range. We love their ‘Hops on Pointe’ Champagne Pilsner, brewed for the New Zealand Royal Ballet, that features tiny dancers on the label in the white spaces between the hop leaves. We also love ‘La Calavera Catrina’, a spicy corn lager brewed with habanero chilli, watermelon and rose water, in a white tinnie featuring a spooky tattooed girl clutching a skull, while their ‘Mon P’tit Chou’ depicts a young ginger-haired woman dreamily holding a cabbage. All intriguing female characters, artfully drawn, and not sexualised. It’s that easy! Garage Project’s new limited-release beer, Hunnybee, is a honey wheat farmhouse ale made as a collaboration with psychedelic band Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and features an illustration on the can of a woman of colour busting out of a pale mask, with a giant bee and an eyeball on her head. A lot going on here in this intriguing artwork by Mexican artist Pogo.

Brewery: Little Bang Brewing Co (SA)
Beer: ‘Beard Fiction’ Slightly Erotic Pale Ale
Little Bang Brewing Co from Adelaide like to create extremely fun and oddball labels for their range of delicious beers, such as the ‘Icon’ Hoppy Steam Ale with its extremely dodgy 1980s-looking computer graphics, and the ‘Naked Objector’ Indecent West Coast IPA that comes in a yellow tinnie with a sketch of an angry-looking nude old dude (inspired by a local gent who apparently wanted the right to remain unclothed in the vicinity of the brewery). Another great example of their sense of humour is the ‘Beard Fiction’, which they’ve described as a ‘Slightly Erotic Pale Ale’. Parodying the romantic covers of Mills & Boon novels, the label features a costumed woman and a bare-chested man ‒ they’ve flipped the gender roles so the woman is in the position of power, clothed and in control above the man, while in a bodice-ripping reversal the buff man’s shirt is gaping open to reveal his absurdly muscled chest. Gold.

Brewery: La Sirene (VIC)
If you’ve seen La Sirene’s bottles you’ll know they feature a beautiful mermaid perched atop a rock, gazing out to sea. In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. La Sirene’s finned lady is super pretty but she also owns that rock, and could probably do you some damage with a smack of her mighty tail. Pictured in a gorgeous Art Nouveau style, these labels are very classy: this siren is a babe, but one you need to respect.

Brewery: Beer Baroness (NZ)
Christchurch brewer Ava Nakagawa, aka the Beer Baroness, has created a choice range of brews including The Bearded Lady Stout, Mama Mighty American IPA, Madame Brown Ale and Rye-ot Grrrl Rye IPA. Each label features a stylised version of Ava dressed in various outfits to match the beer. Witty, eye-catching and brimming with confidence, this branding proudly stakes a claim for women on the beer shelves.

Want more tips on featuring women on beer labels?
Here are 5 handy tips!

1 Is she wearing all of her clothes? If not, is there a legitimate reason for this?

2 Is she blond, tall and slim? Have you considered putting women of other shapes, sizes and colour on the label?

3 Is she depicted as being helpless or passive? Or is she doing/achieving something? Does she look like she might have a name and a back story?

4 Would you show this image or beer name to your mum?

5 Do you think this label will make women feel included in the beer industry, and likely to grab this beer off the shelf and share it with their mates? Or vomit in their mouths a little?

Read more about the many awesome Aussie women in beer in the current edition of Froth magazine, out now. Grab one for free at your local bar or bottle shop, or subscribe at frothbeer.com/subscribe