I should admit upfront that my beer expertise comes only from consumption. Oh, and Sirron is my big brother. He asked me to take a stab at an entry discussing "the role a label plays in framing a beer" for this month's Session, hosted this month by Andrew at I'll Have a Beer. Here are a couple of my beer-related thoughts on the topic:

A beer’s brand exists with or without a label, a name, or even a bottle. In fact, brands live in the minds of consumers, not producers. Producers (or corporations, more like it) spend a lot of money trying to steer brands to their advantage. This is a good thing for my parents and their guest bedroom because, if corporations didn’t, I would be unemployed.

The big secret is that producers will never have complete control of a brand’s identity. It's about the experience, other people's opinions, pop culture, beer trends, etc. While using a can instead of bottle (gasp) or featuring a saint instead of a mountain scene (Can someone tell me why so many microbrews have wildlife on their labels?) can help explain the vision to a consumer, it will never tell the whole story.

While I’m a sucker for clever packaging (Sirron’s elaborate gift wrap of a Mariah Carey CD circa Christmas 1991 may take the cake), I think the lack of it is what the homebrew brand is all about.