Cream Ale from Newburgh Brewing Company Wins Best Beer Label!

8-Bit Pale Ale, B/A/Y/S (Black As Your Soul) Imperial Stout, Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA and Founders Breakfast Stout also winners

They say don't judge a book by its cover, but when faced with an ever expanding selection of craft beer cans and bottles, sometimes you have to judge a beer by its label. A great beer label pushes boundaries, epitomizes the beer within, captures the eye or makes us smile. Some manage all four.

  • Cream Ale
    Newburgh Brewing Company

    Cream ale is a beer style born in New York State, and Newburgh Brewing Company chose to honor the roots of the beer and the brewery’s Hudson Valley location with the label for its cream ale. Betsy the cow - the brewery’s mascot - features prominently in the colorful label alongside local icons and phrases (“This beer was born here”) that demonstrate the brewery’s regional pride.
    Photo courtesy of Newburgh Brewing Company

  • 8-Bit Pale Ale
    Tallgrass Brewing Co.

    Inspired by first generation Nintendo games such as Super Mario Brothers, this can from Tallgrass Brewing Company in Kansas is simple but fun. The winking smiley face beckons the drinker to sip and enjoy the complex, hoppy American Pale Ale within. The 8-bit design theme carries over to the 24-can pack that declares “Game Over.”
    Photo courtesy of Tallgrass Brewing Co.

  • B/A/Y/S (Black As Your Soul) Imperial Stout
    Adroit Theory Brewing

    Dark and complex, this Russian imperial stout - according to Adroit Theory Brewing Company - “plunges you into the blackness we are normally numb to.” The label reflects that darkness, with a border of skulls and a Rorschach-like design suggestive of a moth. Skulls, birds and the words “black as your soul” blend together. It’s a label to contemplate while exploring the depths of the stout itself.
    Photo courtesy of Adroit Theory Brewing Company

  • Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA
    Pipeworks Brewing Co.

    Chicago brewery Pipeworks produces this hoppy, unfiltered double IPA with more than five pounds of hops per barrel. An epic IPA deserves an epic label, and this one depicts a battle between the mythical unicorn (looking particularly angry in this instance) and the deadly ninja assassin. Imbibers can choose the winner.
    Photo courtesy of Pipeworks Brewing Co.

  • Breakfast Stout
    Founders Brewing Co.

    This oaty, chocolatey, coffee lovers' stout screams “breakfast.” Its label sports a chubby baby in its high chair enjoying a big bowl of oatmeal. The baby gets much love, except in Michigan where a law prohibits the use of minors on alcoholic beverage labels. So in the brewery’s home state the label shows the bowl, the high chair, and a note from the baby that says “Left the crib for a bit, call me if you need me 616-522-2720.” Call the number, see what happens.
    Photo courtesy of Founders Brewing Co.

  • Moondance
    Southbound Brewing Company

    This Belgian-inspired imperial stout is brewed with spices, and the smooth, creamy liquid is perfect for a nighttime rendezvous. The owl on the label, surrounded by detailed foliage, beckons with its piercing eyes. The design conjures up visions of a moonlit stroll through the gardens of Southbound Brewing’s hometown, Savannah.
    Photo courtesy of Southbound Brewing Company

  • Fade to Black
    Left Hand Brewing Company

    Left Hand’s “Fade to Black” is a seasonal series of stouts. After releasing 5 yearly variations, Left Hand has gone back to the original volume, their 3x Gold Medal winning Foreign Export Stout. The black and white label features a gothic font and swirling lines. The design was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, and those with a keen eye can spot the ravens hidden within.
    Photo courtesy of Left Hand Brewing Company

  • Selfies Are For Wieners Double IPA
    Spiteful Brewing

    "Don't fight it, spite it" is Spiteful Brewing’s motto. The names of their beers call out things the founders dislike - think bosses ("I Hate My Boss Coffee Stout"), pigeons ("God Damn Pigeon Porter") and bad drivers (“Worst Driver Award Honey Stout"). This crankiness is reflected in their hand-drawn labels. Selfies are certainly on the spite list, and the “Selfies are for Weiners” double IPA label provides helpful steps to cure the selfie scourge: primp, take a selfie, punch yourself (in a very uncomfortable place) and never take one again.
    Photo courtesy of Spiteful Brewing

  • Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
    Foothills Brewing

    This cocoa-infused imperial stout features notes of chocolate, toffee and blackstrap molasses. The red and brown label suggests the smooth, chocolatey beverage inside. With her eyes closed, a foxy woman seems to savor the brew and almost glows from within, inviting consumers to see if they have the same carnal response.
    Photo courtesy of Foothills Brewing

  • Suburban Beverage
    Perennial Artisan Ales

    This gose-style ale is brewed with key limes, Meyer lemons and Valencia oranges. The flavor is tart, tangy and salty - almost like a margarita. As such, it’s a great beer for relaxing on a hot summer day. The label says it all, as it depicts happy couples lounging by the pool, grilling and enjoying cool beverages.
    Photo courtesy of Sam Cavenagh / Flickr

For the past four weeks, USA TODAY 10Best readers have been voting daily for their favorite beer labels from a pool of 20 nominees. The results are in! Did your favorite make the top 10?

The top 10 winners in the category Best Beer Label are as follows:

  1. Cream Ale - Newburgh Brewing Company
  2. 8-Bit Pale Ale - Tallgrass Brewing Co.
  3. B/A/Y/S (Black As Your Soul) Imperial Stout - Adroit Theory Brewing
  4. Ninja vs. Unicorn Double IPA - Pipeworks Brewing Co.
  5. Breakfast Stout - Founders Brewing Co.
  6. Moondance - Southbound Brewing Company
  7. Fade to Black - Left Hand Brewing Company
  8. Selfies Are For Wieners Double IPA - Spiteful Brewing
  9. Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout - Foothills Brewing
  10. Suburban Beverage - Perennial Artisan Ales

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Jim Dykstra & Chris Guest (The Beer Connoisseur), Gary Monterosso (What’s On Tap), Jack Muldowney (The Hop Review) and Ale Sharpton ( were chosen based on their extensive beer knowledge and experience.

Other nominees for Best Beer Label included Black Angel from Wicked Weed Brewing, Brew Free! Or Die IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery, Hipster Ale from Evil Twin Brewing, Imperial Stout Trooper from New England Brewing Co., Life & Limb from Dogfish Head & Sierra Nevada, PDX Carpet IPA from Rogue Ales, Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co., Tesseract from Grimm Artisanal Ales, Theophan the Recluse from Three Taverns Craft Brewery and Yacht from Stillwater Artisanal Beer.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winning beers.

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Jim Dykstra & Chris Guest

Jim Dykstra & Chris Guest

Gary Monterosso

Gary Monterosso

Jack Muldowney

Jack Muldowney

Ale Sharpton

Ale Sharpton