THE TYPOGRAPHY OF BOULEVARD BEER AND IT’S BREWERY
THE TYPOGRAPHY OF BOULEVARD BEER AND IT’S BREWERY
Next time you’re in your local bottle
shop, look down the seemingly endless
beer aisles and note what stands out.
Chances are, you’ll see groups of famil-
iar labels and immediately know what the
brand is. You may have noticed this be-
fore on your own without direction, but it’s
worth observing more closely. Public let-
tering is a form of language that contrib-
utes to how we identify and even respond
to a specific environment.
When people think of Boulevard
Brewing Co., the majority of them prob-
ably think of the beer they produce rather
than the brand they have built. The major-
ity of typography in a brewery like Bou-
levard consists of beer labels, wayfind-
ing, and instructional lettering, but also
involves information and fun callouts.
People tend to gravitate toward “stylish”
things that have nice colors and good
type, and that’s exactly how Boulevard
began designing their ways. On the walls,
framed papers hang, showcasing Boule-
vard of the past.
The consistent typography creates a
cohesive atmosphere, even in the small
instances of signage. Instead of just
words that communicate, the typography
begins to become a form of communica-
R E W I N G U P A
B E S T. 19 89
During the summer of 1984, John were homogenous and unremark-
McDonald, the future founder of Bou- able. He couldn’t shake the memory of
levard Brewing Company, was vaca- those amazing beers, and he began to
tioning in Europe. He wandered into consider the possibilities. He started
a bar specializing in Belgian beers. He learning how to homebrew beer and
tried one, then another and another. visited other breweries. He put to-
Amazed by the variety, the aromas, gether a business plan, sold his house
and the flavors, he was hooked. to raise money, and set out to find the
rest of the resources he would need to
Back home in Kansas City, Mis- start a brewery. But John didn’t have
souri, John couldn’t stop dream- to look far to get started; he lived and
ing about those Belgian beers. But worked in an old brick building on
dreaming was all he could do, be- Southwest Boulevard.
cause American beers of the time
It took John more than a year and ev- cleaning, and then selling, convincing
ery bit of the money he’d raised to ret- bar and restaurant owners to put Bou-
rofit the building, find the equipment levard beers on tap. Still, John knew he
— including a vintage 35-barrel Bavar- needed bottles. But there was no money,
ian brewhouse — and get everything and bottling lines weren’t cheap. Reject-
up and running. Finally, in November ed by bank after bank, one institution fi-
1989, the first keg of Boulevard Pale nally saw promise in his vision and made
Ale was ready. John loaded it into the a loan that enabled Boulevard to install a
back of his pickup and delivered it to a very small, very used bottling line.
restaurant just a few blocks away.
For the first year the brewery pro-
duced only draft beer. The small crew
worked long hours brewing, kegging,
“I W A N T T O
& FLAVOR &
AROMA & BODY,
When John built his brewery deep in the
heart of a century-old urban neighbor-
hood, he hadn’t worried about outgrow-
ing it. But it happened.
The original business plan called for
someday selling 6,000 barrels a year. By
the third year sales passed 7,000 barrels,
and continued to climb. Boulevard began
selling its beers in neighboring cities and
states; it had reached its limit, and a deci-
sion loomed. Now, the smart move was to
relocate to a new site with plenty of room.
But the brewery was tightly woven into the
fabric of the city, and the Boulevard team
members were committed to its continued
So in 2006, a $25 million expansion
project brought a new building with a
150-barrel brewhouse, packaging halls,
offices and hospitality spaces. For years
John had been eager to drive more exper-
imentation and innovation, but the con-
tinuing growth of Unfiltered Wheat Beer
and Pale Ale meant the brewery’s limited
resources were devoted to the existing
line-up. Now, with a new brewhouse, the
team’s creative energies were unleashed.
The Smokestack Series was launched, fea-
turing an ever-evolving array of even big-
ger, bolder beers.
A large portion of the type found in Boulevard, specifically in the visitor’s center and beer hall, is handwritten. This allows for
ease of change and alteration.
E P ATH
ON TH BEER!
Wayfinding and navigation constitues fectively, knowledge about the mate-
a small, yet highly visible category of rials and fabcrication used is a helpful
typographic design. These informa- tool. Their characteristics give limita-
tion systems are inportant in guiding tions to how the type will be affected
people through the physical environ- and ultimately behave in its final form.
ment while also enhancing their un-
derstanding and experience of the In high-stress or often busy and
space. For it to be successful, it must crowded environments, effective way-
be planned out to be easily conveyed. finding systems contribute to a sense
of well-being, safety, and security. For
This type of signage can be stat- this, people need visual cues such as
ic or passerby, which influences the maps, directions, symbols, or confir-
typeface choices and treatment of the mation signage to help guide them to
typography. In order to design this ef- their desired destinations.
The Bottle Shop in the gift shop offers a wide selection of labels and designs with their year-round, seasonal, and limited release beers for mixing and matching to build a
The reason we become so desensi- Type aimed at the public takes front
tized to type so much is because ty- and center and remains open and gen-
pography is not always meant for us. erally large and bold for easy and quick
This is not entirely neccessary, but it is viewing of a typical passerby. Many of
important that it is taken seriously by the obstacles in the way have probably
the people who need it. Because of been placed there for the purpose of
this familiarity, our minds recognize security and safety, which adds to the
certain type as important and other visual flow and consistency as well.
type as frivolous. Without this filtra-
tion system, our daily lives would be
even more inundated with typogra-
phy than what we have already adapt-
ed to become accustomed to.
“I T ’ S r e a l ly
Back in 1984, one of the beers that cated to the highest expression of the
so captivated John’s imagination was brewers’ art. Boulevard remains com-
Duvel, among the most famous and mitted to its original mission, pushing
iconic beers of all time. So when John boundaries and helping to re-define
was approached by Michel Moortgat, American beer.
president and fourth generation lead-
er of Duvel Moortgat, he listened.
In 2014, Boulevard became part
of the Duvel Moortgat family, a col-
lection of artisanal breweries dedi-
“ PUBLIC TYPOGRAPHY
“S I N C E 1 9 8 9 ,
& DRAWN BY
BOULEVARD BREWING CO.
Boulevard Brewery ranks as the 12th
largest craft brewery, and the 18th larg-
est active brewery in the United States.
Before the sale of Anheuser-Busch to In-
Bev in 2008, Boulevard was the largest
independent American brewery in the
state of Missouri.
In 2013, when Boulevard was ac-
quired by Duvel Moortgat Brewery,
terms of the deal were not disclosed,
but was estimated that the sale price ex-
ceeded $100 million.
““W E c a n
T O ROAM
In Fall 2011 Boulevard began a $3 mil-
lion expansion of its original brew house
at 25th Street and Southwest Boulevard
in Kansas City. The expansion required
Boulevard to remove six 105-barrel fer-
menters in order to replace them with
eight new 300-barrel fermentation tanks.
The expansion allowed the brewery to
produce an additional 35,000 barrels of
beer a year, increasing capacity by about
In order to accommodate the new
tanks, the original brew house at 25th
Street and Southwest Boulevard will
need to be raised about 35 feet.
The roots of Boulevard’s beer is based in Belgian beers. The
visuals found in Boulevard Brewery coorelates especially to it’s
foundation and startup as a Brewery. Their mission aims to pro-
duce fresh, flavorful beers using the finest ingredients and the
best of both old and new brewing techniques. From the begin-
ning phases to its steady evolution, the visual identity and pub-
lic typography of Boulevard is a written language that parallels
the aspect of the Brewery.
VISC 402: Design as Author, Fall 2017
Professor Patrick Dooley
The University of Kansas
This book was typeset in Univers
Bold Condensed and Avenir Next.
It was designed in Adobe InDesign
and photos were edited in Adobe
Photoshop. All photographs taken with
a Canon 7D.
Special thanks to the Boulevard Brewing
Company for letting me invading their
space so many times, and going on
multiple tours, and snapping hundereds
Strom, Stephanie. “Belgian Brewery
Buys U.S. Maker of Craft Beers.” The
New York Times, 17 October 2013
Beer News. “New Look, Same Great
Beer.” Boulevard Brewing Company, 21
Becker, Dan. “Interview With Jeremy
Danner of Boulevard Brewing.” The Full
Pint - Craft Beer News, 17 February 2014
White, Tom. “Rebranding a Midwest
Icon with Boulevard Brewing.” The Hop
Review – Beer Interviews, Photography &
Travel, 26 August 2016