“99 Bottles IPA” Beer Labels!

Recently, I won a beer label contest, meaning that my artwork is on actual beer brewed by actual strangers who sell beer for money.

This is kind of a big deal for me, so let me share all the details, along with pictures and a podcast of me talking about this blog on the local radio.

The beer label contest was run by Colorado Craft Beer Show, a radio show on AM 760 that covers the craft beer scene around Denver, CO.  Whoever won would receive a prize in label printing from Columbine Label Company (who sponsored the event), and also would have their artwork featured on Strange Brewing Company’s very special, limited-run “99 Bottles” single-hopped Amarillo IPA, brewed especially for the 3rd anniversary of the radio show. Strange Brewing would bottle exactly 99 bomber-sized bottles of the IPA, kegging the rest to sell in their tap room. The bottles would not be sold in stores, but be used as promotional specialty beers for events and giveaways.

Here is my winning design:

Label Artwork for "99 Bottles" Single-hopped Amarillo IPA

Label Artwork for “99 Bottles” Single-hopped Amarillo IPA

I included this description of the artwork along with my submission:

Many people, when hearing the name “99 Bottles”, will automatically finish the rest of the verse in their head. “Take one down, pass it around!” The name emphasizes good times with friends, sharing, camaraderie, and, of course, a nearly never-ending supply of beer. I wanted to capture this moment of joy, glimpsing a rowdy and good-natured toast between a bunch of friends (or even strangers!) in the beer cellar, with plenty of fun left to go. They are all drinking the very beer that you are. Around this scene is a bountiful hop vine, highlighting the strongest flavor in the beer. The bountiful, exuberant theme is extra pertinent for an IPA, whose popularity in America in recent years has skyrocketed as beer lovers everywhere savor the strong, crisp, hoppiness in what has become a go-to staple among friends in craft breweries across the country.  The work is a freehand ink drawing, colored digitally.  Incidentally, there are exactly 98 bottles in the picture. Can you find the 99th? It’s in your hand!

I also want to add, in case you can’t see it, that each of the smaller bottles in the label has the SAME LABEL as the bigger label. I would call it “beer-ception”, except the movie Inception didn’t invent recursion and I don’t like the use of the movie name to talk about it. But in this instance, I am using it ironically, because apparently I am some kind of hipster.

The label company added all the necessary text and logos (apparently there are a lot of rules about what needs to go on a beer label) and selected a wood-veneer effect for the actual labels.

Here’s what the label looks like on the actual beer, bottled by Strange Brewing Company.

Take one down! Pass it around!

Take one down! Pass it around!


I think they turned out rather well.

This past Saturday, on April 19th, the radio show “unveiled” the beer labels during a special show hosted at Lone Tree Brewing, in Lone Tree, Colorado.

They introduced me on the radio and invited me to say a bit about the artwork on air. They also asked about this blog, so I could plug that briefly. It’s weird talking about this blog on live radio, as if there are a whole lot of readers or something. I could also talk about how Michael was wearing a kilt, and everyone agreed that was awesome. So now you know that if the popularity of kilts takes off in upcoming months, it’s because a random beer-loving blogger gave it the thumbs-up on a local AM radio show. You can thank me later.

In fact, you can listen to a podcast of the radio show here. I show up around 7 minutes in. I don’t sound as young or as dumb as I used to sound in recordings, which is kind of a relief. No one ever sounds like themselves to themselves in recordings, if that makes any sense.

Colorado Craft Beer Show Podcast – April 19th – Hour 2: Kalani Neeland, Beer Label Artist

Colorado Craft Brew Show did their own write-up of the event, where they include the first hour podcast and some more pictures of us standing around holding beer and smiling.

From left to right: Bernadette Ortiz (from Columbine Label Co), Kalani Neeland (beer label artist extraordinaire), Michael Neeland (looks good in kilts), Nicol Winkler (the Thirsty German, from the radio) and John Turk (Colorado Craft Beer Show radio host)

From left to right: Bernadette Ortiz (from Columbine Label Co), Kalani Neeland (beer label artist extraordinaire), Michael Neeland (looks good in kilts), Nicol Winkler (the Thirsty German, from the radio) and John Turk (Colorado Craft Beer Show radio host)

Anyway, that about sums it up. If you are a friend of mine and you like IPA, let me know, because I could probably hook you up. Save the label.

Share Button
  1. Your label turned out so well! Congrats on the win, and my fingers are crossed for the kilts taking off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *