Away Days Brewing Co. is rooted in the dream of providing Portland’s beer-loving community with a new kind of brewery experience. Owners Niki Diamond and Pete Hoppins are transplants from England to Portland via Amsterdam. The two are co-owners of the pub next door–The Toffee Club–a British-style football pub.
After living in beer-centric Portland for nearly a decade, the pair saw an opportunity to create a brand and a business centered around their nostalgic travel memories and the lower-ABV (alcoholic by volume or lower alcohol) beers they enjoyed on those trips.
“With Away Days Brewing Co., we bring the feelings and flavors of Europe to Portlanders who are looking to discover something beyond the traditional taproom. We give our guests a temporary break from the expected, offering them a well-deserved ‘Away Day’,” says owner Niki.
Away Days Brewing Co. is a fun and modern brand with a bold visual identity that stands out against the landscape of traditional breweries. With a focus on adventure, nostalgia, and new experiences, they’re offering something very different to traditional breweries that Niki says often have a similar and formulaic look and feel.
To create a brand that reflects their modern spirit and could grow along with their new business venture, Niki and Pete worked with design and branding studio Land of Plenty and the label and packaging design team in the Avery Dennison Concept Lab.
A collaboration born of a shared passion
The collaboration between the three organizations started in 2016, when Niki and Pete started an annual summer football league. Now coming into its fourth season, the Avery Dennison Toffee League features branding and kits created in a joint effort.
“In terms of Land of Plenty’s role - we were involved in conversations at a very early stage, long before the site was acquired,” says Jonny Rowe, Land of Plenty Creative Director. “It was a very natural link-up since we’ve done a lot of work with Avery Dennison over the years and several of the team here at Land of Plenty are old friends of Pete and Niki.”
“We were able to feed our thoughts into the wider vision, and work together with the client to shape what an effective brewery brand should look like, and behave like, in the modern world. It goes without saying that this was a hugely exciting opportunity for us all here in the studio,” he says.
The vision for Away Days Brewing Co. originated out of Niki and Pete’s passion for community space, adventure and travel, football, and, naturally, beer.
“As people we love what we do, and do what we love,” Niki says. “This includes traveling across Europe, experiencing and discovering new cultures, and getting to try new and old beers from far and wide. We bring these ideas back from our adventures to showcase the best of European beer from an intimate Portland taproom at Away Days.”
The main difference between Away Days Brewery Co. and other local Portland breweries is their wide selection of low ABV beers. Beers with a high alcohol content have historically been popular in Portland, but many beer drinkers are over the trend and looking for something new, according to Niki. Low ABV beers are popular in Europe, as are pubs with a more modern design.
“With Away Days, we have created a space that evokes the best of European design, with bright light, clean lines, and fun pops of color. This is a big step away from the wood and steel that is often found in breweries around the country. The central positioning of our bar is very similar to what you would find in Europe and creates a space that encourages conversation,” says Niki.
Brand design for a growing brewery
The original brief was to set the strategy and create the identity for a new-wave Portland-based brewery, rooted in good beer, and with a passion for the beautiful game. But this quickly evolved, says Jonny of Land of Plenty.
Through conversations with the client, the team wanted the brewery to be less about football (in order to not appear too niche) and instead to dial up the holidays, travel, and adventure side of things -- something more readily associated with the term “away days” in the US.
“From that point,” Jonny says, “the brand has stayed pretty true to this positioning, and it’s beenfun balancing the adventurous spirit with a subtle nod to football nostalgia. One example being the bold blue and white brand stripe, which is both a reference to iconic football jerseys, and the classic choice for parasols and awnings throughout the Mediterranean.”
“Another example being the Away Days mascot, ‘Away Dave’ (named through an Instagram poll). All good football tournaments and teams have a mascot, so it seemed fitting to have one here. He is illustrated by the talented Cool Kid Brendan, dressed in his holiday best, on the move with a pint in hand -- naturally!” he says.
Knowing Away Days would be a quickly evolving and growing brand, Land of Plenty tested several scenarios during development to see how different options might flex and adapt over time. Jonny says this is a common practice, as most brands they work with are designed with growth in mind.
“Our intention was always to have a consistent framework to the can, something that would tie them all together--be that the white label write-on version, or the super-slick on-shelf version. This was also something that was discussed with the client, and that ultimately led to the final solution; a design system with the bold stripe at its core, allowing key information to be consistently placed within the stripes,” says Jonny.
“The first stage was the white label (for the initial collab-beers brewed for launch); we picked out every other stripe with matte laminate against the glossy film base, which in turn created a white-on-white contrast effect that could be easily written on.
“The next stage was to introduce the brand colors along with a range of three signature beers--the Away Days IPA (blue and white stripe), the Bus Stop Bitter (pink and white stripe), and the Post Match Pilsner (yellow and white stripe). These labels were complimented by a green and white striped version for the ever-changing seasonal ales--this one having a blank space for a name and ABV to be written on.”
The Concept Lab worked in collaboration with Land of Plenty to bring the labels and environmental graphics to life. Choosing the right material is very important in any label application, and was especially so for the Away Days Brewing Co. labels. For this project the team went with a 2.4 mil white BOPP material. The spot matte varnish shows the attention to detail and helps elevate the brand.
As for the final stage--the on-the-shelf can--Jonny says, it’s always been part of the Away Days master plan but something still in the works. While the collaboration team plans for it to stay true to the original design system, they are looking at ways to leverage more premium materials that have a link to the ingredients used for the beers inside.
What’s next for the Away Days brand?
Looking ahead to the future is something Niki and Pete have been doing since conceptualizing Away Days Brewing Co. In 2020, they say they have a few exciting partnerships in the works and are generally looking to strengthen the foundation of the Away Days brand and get their name out as much as possible.
With Land of Plenty and the Avery Dennison Concept Lab, the brewery is looking to create a loyalty scheme using removable stickers that originate on the beer can and can be transported into a credit card-sized beer passport. The variety of stickers, including a gold foiled Away Dave mascot, will use a special adhesive that allows for it to be removed from the can and re-stuck into the passport. Collecting all eight will earn customers a free Away Days beer.
For evolving and growing brands, the partnership model between brewery brand owners, design and branding studio, and label and packaging expert seems to be an innovative one that has opened the door to creating a wholly new brewery experience. Between the in-store customer experience, the versatile product designs, and the evolving customer loyalty program, Away Days Brewing Co., Land of Plenty, and the Concept Lab have thought of the customer experience at every turn. As lovers of a great experience (and a great beer), that is something we can all drink to!
To learn more about the Avery Dennison Concept Lab and how they help brands elevate their design through the use of premium label materials, visit their homepage.