Drawn Agency

ColdFire Brewing | The Barrel-Aged Series

Drawn has been working with ColdFire Brewing since before there even was a ColdFire Brewing. Founders Dan and Stephen Hughes came to us with a business plan and we helped them bring it to life. To do so, we developed a complete ColdFire brand (including a name) that’s tightly intertwined with the brewery’s philosophy and methods of crafting fine beers. Right at the outset, we also established a multi-tier packaging strategy with various price points, which would unfold as the brewery gained ground and the brand matured: Cans, barrel-aged bottles, and premium bottles.

Over the years, this ongoing partnership has afforded us many opportunities to flex our CPG muscles. The launch of ColdFire’s long-awaited barrel-aged program in May 2018 was an especially momentous packaging occasion. The brewery’s maiden barrel-aged beers —  “The Cellar Muse,” “Seeds of Infinity,” and “The Bourbon Council” — had been aged to perfection (for more than two years) before becoming publicly available. It’s extremely important to both Stephen (ColdFire’s head brewer) and Dan that their beers are done right, not done fast. So, every beer in ColdFire’s barrel-aged program is, in fact, aged in carefully chosen barrels and periodically taste tested by the Brothers Hughes themselves until they determine that it’s reached its peak. Naturally, these beers are sold at a higher price point than your average cans.

With ColdFire’s cans, we implemented a quick and flexible design system for adding new brews to the lineup. The decision to can a beer is often a last-minute one, so our system allows for packaging that grows with the brand and, yet, can be sent to print in a short time frame.

Photo: Trask Bedortha/Drawn Agency

One of the biggest decisions in beer packaging is whether to opt for a parent-brand-forward design or a beer-forward design. With parent-forward design, you see the brewery name before you notice what the individual beer is called or which style of brew it is. Beer-forward design is the opposite: The individual brew name enjoys prime packaging real estate — think “Fat Tire” (by New Belgium Brewing). Since each new ColdFire beer is just as unique and special as the last, we’ve chosen a parent-brand-forward strategy for all of its packaging. Plus, this does save time and money by keeping the packaging more consistent as the list of pre-packaged beers continues to grow.

ColdFire’s barrel-aged bottles, though, are clearly different than the cans. So, we have approached their packaging more like you would wine. That includes the bottles themselves, which are shaped more like champagne bottles than those you’ll find in a six-pack at the local grocery store. 

We crafted a unified lineup of products by using nearly identical, textured black labels with delicious copper foiling for each barrel-aged beer. The labels bear a resemblance to — and yet remain distinct from — ColdFire’s cans. Each beer’s name is printed in a hand-lettered font that we custom-built for ColdFire, utilizing the same 30, 45, and 50-degree angles seen in the ColdFire logo and several other brand assets.

Photo: Trask Bedortha/Drawn Agency

The name ColdFire was inspired by nature’s fermentation process, “a cold fire,” so we pulled inspiration from that to develop the color palette for the barrel-aged series, which is composed entirely of elemental, earthy hues. True black is actually never found in nature, so we selected a deep charcoal black. The same is true of white — a complete absence of color feels very unnatural, so we opted for a nearly achromatic cream, which is slightly warmer. And then each beer has its own identifying color — apricot, amethyst, sage. Each is a raw, organic color that fits the ColdFire brand. On top of the colors, minimalist descriptions highlight the differences between each brew.

What it all comes down to is this: Every single beer in ColdFire’s barrel-aged program is worthy of this higher, more distinguished price point and presentation. Like a well-aged bourbon stout, this packaging is timeless.

Photo: Trask Bedortha/Drawn Agency