One of the newest and most innovative craft breweries to come out of Scotland recently is cutting edge Tempest Brewing Co, effortlessly pushing the boundaries with unique flavours and radical combinations.

Loving the label: digital printing makes life easier for craft beer brewers

One of the newest and most innovative craft breweries to come out of Scotland recently is cutting edge Tempest Brewing Co, effortlessly pushing the boundaries with unique flavours and radical combinations.

Located on the Scottish Borders in Galashiels, the team at Tempest are dedicated to brewing good quality beer with the best ingredients and a passion for perfection. Since starting operations in 2010, this craft brewery has won Scottish Brewery of the Year 2016 at the BII Scotland Awards and no less than six awards in the 2017 Scottish Beer Awards.

As with many craft breweries, on top of a Core Range of beers, Tempest produces an eclectic range of seasonal brews as well as limited edition beers. Seasonal beers are brewed when the key ingredients are at their peak and so can be in and out of production pretty quick.

It is crucial therefore that bottling, labelling and merchandise materials can be turned around very quickly and in varying quantities. The introduction of digital printing has been revolutionary for craft brewers, not least in that it allows the printing of multiple design variations in a single print run.  The process is simple and efficient, producing high quality labels that are cost effective and delivered practically overnight.

Shannon McFarlane, Tempest Brand & Marketing Manager comments:

One of the biggest benefits of digital printing for us is the flexibility and quality you can achieve with it. With other types of printing there is quite a cost involved in making small changes to labels, and when it comes to quality, I can generally be sure that what is on the screen is what I get when the printed label arrives.

Keeping the dimensions of the brew label the same each time means an identical set of cutting tools can be used, requiring just one print run which keeps costs down. However, standardising the dimensions doesn’t mean design and appearance have to be limited.

At Tempest this is far from the case. According to McFarlane the label inspiration always comes from the beer itself; every beer is unique, has its own story, inspiration, season and style and the brewers are usually the ones that come up with a starting point for the label and its elements.

Working with several artists, the brewery will select one whose style is the best fit to convey these initial ideas onto the label. One thing Tempest work hard at is reflecting the personality of the beer on the label, this is balanced with making the product stand out on the shelf.

Sometimes this might be a real sense of the ingredients if they are central to the beer – like Tangerine Porter or Sour Peach Pale Ale – or it might be something more abstract– like Mango Berlinner and The Alligator Man.

With the help of, Tempest has recently added hot foil stamping to some of its labels, for various reasons. McFarlane explains:

Hot foiling is a great tool for adding a special something to a label but we do not use this indiscriminately. Like our designs, hot foiling is considered in relation to the individual beer itself, its inspiration and purpose.

For example, ‘The Old Fashioned’ was made as a concept beer, brewed to replicate the mouth feel and flavour of the eponymous cocktail. Because of that, we wanted it to have a modern take on a Bourbon label inspired design, so using textured paper, different fonts, and hot foiling. The gold really sets the entire label off and, in my opinion, ties it to Bourbon bottle label.

Foil stamping has been used on the Angel Brew label, brewed in collaboration with Naked Wines. The foiling here was used to add a premium feel that highlights the exclusiveness to the end customer.

Whereas the foiling on their most recent brew, Tangerine Porter, has more to do with seasonality. Basically a Terry’s Chocolate Orange as a beer, it has lots of seasonal flavours but is not a typical Christmas beer. The hot foil gives it a festive feeling without being overly festive.

Look out for the Tangerine Porter, launched December 2017, made with fresh tangerine juice and zest, chocolate and seasonal spices. Also on the new release list is a Double IPA called Attack of the Killer Crab, whose origins are in B movies and pulp Sci-Fi!

For small breweries, it can be difficult to find suppliers that are a good balance of cost, efficiency and flexibility, who understand your business and who are easy to work with. McFarlane chooses to use because, she says, they offer this balanced service.

There are a lot of digital printers we could work with but it’s the little things like suggesting a hot foil, or pointing out a design mistake, or just genuinely taking an interest in how we’re getting on that makes the difference. are quick, resolve issues fast and we know we’re going to get a good quality label that will match the quality of the beer that goes with it.


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