In addition to producing delicious and sought after beer, Northern Virginia’s Aslin Beer Company also touts eye catching designs that are just as interesting as their innovative brews. Whether you’re grabbing beer to-go for your weekend or holiday celebrations or enjoying a drink at in-person at their Alexandria or Herndon locations, Aslin’s cans are eye catchers that are worth a closer look. With that in mind, we spoke to Mike Van Hall, who is behind the works of art that are Aslin cans, and Erik Raines, Aslin’s Brand Manager. The two told us about their collaborative processes, their favorite designs so far and what Aslin has in store for the near future.
Mike Van Hall, Artist
I grew up in bars and restaurants, so I was always surrounded by the food and beverage world. A few months after creating COO, it dawned on me that I should focus the concept on those things because I enjoyed them so much. After some study, it became clear it was the best move because I could feed the problem-solving side of my brain as much as the creative side.
The first iteration of my work with Aslin has really just been me getting a list of beer names and styles, then generating my visual representation of those things. The only ground rule Aslin set was that I ensure variety. I try to balance that against the need to maintain cohesiveness in the story we bring to people, as well as my own desire for artistic expression. In many ways, it is an ideal set up for everyone because it allows us to move fast and not get weird with experimentation.
The freedom I have is one of the most rewarding parts because it relieves a bit of pressure on everyone. I don’t have to worry about focus groups dictating names or designs and the Aslin crew does not have to worry that the brand visuals will succumb to routine thinking. But my freedom is checked a bit by the volume of labels needed and the speed of the market. Dealing with those imperatives is the most challenging part of working with Aslin.
Any upcoming releases that you’re really looking forward to?
There is some stuff coming led by individual members of the brewhouse staff. Those should be very fun and unique. We are laying out the visuals now and I am looking forward to seeing how far they can push and how people react.
Favorite Aslin beer to drink?
Johann the Mango Thief and That’s Facts are my two favorites of the regularly released stuff. In different ways, they each highlight the best of what the crew produces.
DC should get statehood.
Erik Raines, Brand Manager
I’ve been the Brand Manager since March 2019. I’ve known the guys from Aslin since they opened five years ago and have always admired their drive and creativity. So when the opportunity to join the team arrived I jumped at the chance. My role varies from day to day and that’s what I love about Aslin. Our success is rooted in the our team’s ability to think quickly and jump in to help in any role. Whether it’s representing Aslin at festivals, assisting with social media and marketing, working on community based initiatives or building our brand, there are endless opportunities for me to have an impact.
When you and your team work on crafting a new beer, how do you come up with aspects like the name and design?
We have a running list of beer names but sometimes it’s as simple as just overhearing someone saying something funny and next thing you know it ends up on a label. In regards to the design, we almost always leave that up to Mike Van Hall. We find the less direction and knowledge of reference he gets with a name, the better the end result.
How does your team collaborate with your designer to put together the finished product?
Again, this is mostly driven by Mike. There are rare and random occasions where we give him suggestions or context but generally he has creative control and that only makes the final product better. There are already too many designs on shelves out there where the design is such a literal representation of the beer name. Mike’s thoughtfulness, intent and ability to challenge perception is what makes our brand standout.
Do you have any upcoming releases that you’re looking forward to sharing?
We have a release for Cyber Monday and another around Christmas where we are exploring the possibilities with creative packaging. Building on our approach with labels and bringing that into exciting new ways to package and present our beers is going to be a ton of fun!
Anything else you’d like to share?
We absolutely can’t wait to share our new taproom in downtown Herndon. It has been something we have been trying to get off the ground for several years now and it will finally be a reality, opening at the end of 2020.
To learn more about Aslin Beer Company, order beer and merch, or plan a visit to one of their locations, visit www.aslinbeer.com. Follow them on Instagram for to stay up to date on the latest releases, Cyber Monday and Christmas releases and more @aslinbeerco.
Alexandria Beer Garden + Taproom: 847 S Pickett St. Alexandria, VA; Thursday through Friday from 2-9 p.m., Saturday from 12-9 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.
Herndon Beer Garden: 771 Elden St. Herndon, VA; Thursday from 2-9 p.m., Friday from 2-10 p.m., Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.
Alexandria + Herndon Curbside Pickup: Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
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