If you’ve ever opened a copy of Froth, enjoyed a can of CoConspirator’s Matriarch, or stepped inside Port Melbourne’s The Hack and liked what you’ve seen, you have Pocketbeagles to thank. More specifically, you've got the man behind the design studio, Clint Weaver to thank.
While Clint’s work is now found inside a growing number of pubs, bars and bottleshops, his first serious foray into beer design was as recent as October 2015, when the first edition of Froth was launched. At the time, Clint was still a student, looking for a way to make it into the beer industry.
“I kind of knew before I started my course that I was going to start my own business rather than go and work for somebody else,” Clint says. “It quickly became apparent that specialising in something would be beneficial and I asked myself what I liked. The answer was beer.”
While Clint’s first focus was trying to get his artwork onto beer, that path took a slightly different turn when he ran into Froth’s founder and editor Emily Day, who was in the early stages of planning her magazine. Immediately, Clint suggested he could design it, and it’s fair to say his portfolio of work has grown rapidly since.
“It’s been like a rock down the hill since it started,” he says. “I was going to so many beer events and putting myself out there and talking to people to encourage it to grow as it has. But I’m still surprised that I’ve gotten as far as I have now.
“I owe everything to Froth and I say it was a fortuitous to run into Emily, but I also put myself in that position to potentially make that happen.”
Among Clint’s beer world clients are Brewmanity, Hack Brewing and CoConspirators, with the last of these the one that has given him the most beers to work with to date. He says their partnership gave him a chance to put into practice his thoughts on branding, based upon the CoConspirators team’s desire to have each of their beers featuring a different underworld figure.
“They wanted a way to represent their idea and the whole feel of those characters came across really quickly, really,” Clint says.
Looking at the CoConspirators cans, one aspect stands out: the brewing company’s name isn’t actually on the front. Such a choice was entirely deliberate, with Clint noticing how some international brewers – Mikkeller and Omnipollo being perhaps the best known examples – successfully use artwork to create a story in lieu of words.
We’ve previously looked at the increasing importance of branding for craft breweries, as well as the difficulties they can face standing out from the crowd; for Clint, he says it's crucial to take influence from multiple places and to be willing to be novel in your approach.
His willingness to work for a range of beer clients across varied canvases led to him landing a job designing Port Melbourne pub, The Hack. It was opened late last year by the crew behind Hack Brewing and pours a rotating lineup of beers from local breweries – as well as its own – across more than a dozen taps.
If the original brief was to create a unique craft beer venue, it was certainly achieved. It’s bright, spacious, plastered in unlikely pastel colours broken up by murals, large examples of Clint's artwork and the odd neon sign and, though it’s still very much a pub serving pub food and a wide range of quality drinks, its feel is a world away from other Gold Rush era Melbourne boozers.
“I made something I wanted to drink at, and it turned out to be exactly what they had in mind,” Clint says.
“A big thing for me is to find juxtapositions in design to make things look different and, for [the team at The Hack] to trust someone who literally had no experience, worked to their benefit and means they got something someone else wouldn’t do.”
Having hit the ground running in his own venture, Clint thinks the most important lesson new brewers looking to do the same need to understand is to value branding from day one.
“There are rare occasions where people might be talented enough, or know someone, to be able to do the work themselves, but most of the time your skill lies in brewing beer,” he says, adding that the beer branding game has seriously evolved even in the short time since he started out with Froth.
“It’s so ridiculously important now with so much competition around on both tap and shelf space,” he says.
To read other articles in The Collaborators series, which shines a spotlight on businesses working in tandem with the craft beer industry, head here.