There is a shelf behind the bar at our Bloomington brewpub that has always held bottles of beers that once were at the core of our lineup but subsequently were retired. You don’t thrive and grow for 15 years by not making changes, occasionally to recover from outright mistakes, but more often because the team has come up with more and better ideas and we can’t “just leave well enough alone.” Tradition is important (honor thy Champagne Velvet!), but it’s not everything.
Since opening the new production brewery 18 months ago, we’ve brewed something close to 20 new beers, which also means we’ve had something close to 20 debates about names and label imagery. Nothing brings out the psychological disorders in a brewery like a good ol fashioned fight around branding a new beer or designing a new dish in the restaurant. Picture all the characters in Thunderdome, and then take a look at our beer labels—ah, now it makes sense!
We finally decided to bring some order to that chaos, and starting today, and transitioning onto shelves over the next 6-12 months, you’ll see new looks for essentially all of our beers. We enlisted the help of some real pros, Young & Laramore, who forced us to articulate what was at the core of the Upland ethos and family. In developing that description we thought back to the earliest faces in the Upland family portrait—staff and customers—and to today’s team and fans. We thought about moments when being a craft brewery was not so easy and pictured the future brewery and restaurant we intend to become.
That collage of principles and ideas—some a little perfectionist, some a little profane—turned into an idea that we think ties everything together. We call it the “Other Midwest,” and it’s an apt label for both the town of Bloomington and the mindset we’re about. It’s everything that’s great about the Midwest, just a little more bohemian, a little more forward-looking, a little…different. It’s what we see when we look at our company and the way we do things. Just as important, it’s what we see when we look out at the faces in our brewpub, tasting rooms and tap house.
The process wasn’t always easy, and plenty of great things didn’t make it out of the Thunderdome alive. But the stuff that did felt like a great old shirt when it was done. It was so totally obvious and familiar that we couldn’t remember what we used to fight about when talking beer identities.
We then took those thoughts and words to a couple world-class artists, BMD Design and The Bungaloo, who subsequently blew us away with their ability to translate ideas into illustrations. Wow, is all I can say.
Come see for yourself by stopping by any of our retail outlets this evening to see the new tap handles, bottle labels and logos. We suggest contemplating them the best way we know how: with a beer in hand, listening to the local bands that will be playing.
Welcome to an exciting new day for Upland. Welcome to the Other Midwest.