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Yeastie Boys win gold for open source beer

Yeastie Boys win gold for open source beer

New Zealand brewing company Yeastie Boys added a gold medal for design to the growing swag of international gongs they have recently won for their leftfield ales, when they were awarded gold for their open source Digital IPA in the Packaging Class at the Sutton Group Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards last week.

Digital IPA, a robustly hopped India Pale Ale that has fast become one of Yeastie Boys’ most popular beers, features five Quick Response (QR) codes on the distinctive metallic-blue label. The QR codes link to various web pages including one containing the full recipe of the beer, making Digital IPA one of the world’s first open source beers.

Christchurch design company Deflux worked on the label for Digital IPA – a beer named after a 1978 song by post punk band Joy Division – after the Yeastie Boys mentioned they wanted to make the recipe open source. "The monotony of the phrase 'day in day out' from the song was what flipped the switch for this label concept" said Simon Courtney, Deflux Art Director. "That led us into the mono-colour metallic blue print, metallic blue reminded us of robots and robots are digital… so it all tied in nicely. The use of QR codes stems from the strong social voice of the Yeastie Boys and a feeling that the space on a label couldn't fully say everything about this beer, or encapsulate who the Yeastie Boys are and what they stand for."

Yeastie Boys' founder and Creative Director Stu McKinlay says the name has confused quite a few consumers. "Digital really amused me as a beer name because of the fact that a beer - unlike the music that inspires much of our work - cannot be downloaded for free. It has be purchased from a commercial brewery or brewed at home with your own sweat and tears. But giving people a link to the recipe almost makes it digital" McKinlay said. "In regards to giving the recipe away via the QR code, we get asked all the time about whether it is a good idea to give away our intellectual property. Our belief is that education is one of the keys to keeping people engaged in the process of making and drinking great beer. Chefs do it all the time, so why shouldn’t we? Perhaps this label will be the first step to New Zealand’s first craft brewing recipe book."

The packaging for Digital IPA wasn’t rewarded for the use of new physical materials in the container itself, or in the label, nor does it contain any sort of gimmicky pouring mechanism found in some better known products. It was rewarded for doing something far more important for craft beer – a sub-sector of the brewing industry that sometimes focuses too introspectively, on simply making great beer, and not enough on getting that beer to market and keeping it there. The label opens a link between Yeastie Boys and their customers, engaging them in a two-way conversation via social media and giving them the opportunity to brew the beer themselves. The consumer then becomes the producer and, as such, a virtual sales force for better beer in general. Of course, once the packaging has been scanned and the bottle has been opened, it is only the quality of the beer that resells the product and Digital IPA is receiving rave reviews.

"The proudest moment I have experienced with this label was not the feedback from happy homebrewers who had used the recipe, or excited open source geeks who had seen their digital ideas in the beer world, but a few minutes spent in a bottle store watching a mum and dad eagerly showing their children how the QR codes worked." said McKinlay. "It wasn’t some weird thing where we were engaging with a potential future customer that excited me but the fact that our label had transcended its traditional form. It was no longer a simple means of explaining what the beer tasted like and what its vital regulatory statistics were. It was a means of engaging people deeper into the world of craft beer - a very good place to be."

Yeastie Boys Digital IPA is distributed exclusively in New Zealand via BeerNZ Ltd and is also exported to Australia, Europe, Singapore and USA. It was recently selected as the official beer of the Fab8NZ Conference at Wellington's Massey University later this month. Fab8NZ is a conference about open design in digital fabrication, which will also see the opening of the southern hemisphere’s first Fab Lab, and brings together participants from 30 countries.

Digital IPA label: http://db.tt/HpyLjQOZ

Digital IPA bottle shot: http://db.tt/r2PkcRoR

About Yeastie Boys

The Yeastie Boys - Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie - are the dynamic duo of New Zealand's craft beer scene. They burst onto the beer landscape with two trophies for their flagship porter Pot Kettle Black at BrewNZ 2009 and have remained firmly ensconced there ever since. Their latest achievements include a trifecta of major international awards in the last year including Champion Beer at The Asia Beer Awards, People's Choice at The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular and the Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. The Yeastie Boys say that they stay ahead of the game by being food and drink lovers first and foremost and postmodern craft beer cult heroes on the side.

ENDS

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