You may think that a beer’s label would be one of the last jobs to be completed when releasing a new beer, but in Wychwood’s case, the label is the starting point and is where the adventure begins. Instead of brewing a beer then basing the label and design on the beer’s character, ingredients and tasting notes, the marketing team at Wychwood give birth to new characters that will be bought to life on the front of their beers. Taking inspiration from the ancient myths and legends from the nearby magical forest of Wych Wood, they conjure up these characters before briefing the brewers on the type of beer that then needs to be created.
“We brief Jon (the head brewer) and his team on the character we plan to create for Jon to employ his team’s talents to create a beer that works well with the character essence,” explained Chris Keating, marketing manager for the Hobgoblin, Wychwood, Ringwood, and Brakspear Brands.
“We use the Wychwood Forest as an inspiration for our characters,” he continued, and this is evident throughout their fantasy-based beer range; what with the likes of the Black Wych, Ginger Beard and of course the infamous Hobgoblin, all looking as if they’ve leapt out of the pages of an old Tolkien book.
“Each character has a role to play,” Chris said, “but none more important than the Hobgoblin himself,” and it is the image of the mischievous little creature that has become synonymous with their beers and has arguably made it one of the most recognisable beers in the country.
When it comes to physically designing the labels, the brewery has employed less than 10 artists since 1983 back when it was the Clinch & Co. Brewery. “We currently have three artists that we work closely with to produce the artwork,” said Chris. “Each artist is able to use their own style to bring a character to life.”
This method of first conceiving the personality of the the creature that will adorn the bottle allows the brewery to live up to their motto of being ‘Brewers of Character,’ both in the sense of their beer and the mythical characters that they are based on.