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29th October 2021

Craft Beer UK: The breweries designing incredible beer shirts

The past year has been testing for many hospitality venues and in order to diversify, many brands have released merch to supplement their income. Many are creating merch that serves two purposes: personalised workwear for staff that’s also a collectable item for customers.

Merch experts at ICON printing have teamed up with their client Hackney Brewery and Leeds based North Brewing to share what they think makes a great beer shirt.

Business merchandise expert and ICON printing founder and CEO Alex Econs said: “The logic is simple enough: if you appreciate quality, finely crafted beer, then you’ll be enamoured by a nicely designed t-shirt too. Great beer shirts will manage to reflect the breweries personalities and quirks in the design and this is why they work so well as both staff uniforms and as merch.”

“Whether it is embroidered caps or screen printed t-shirts, for newer, independent breweries, creating distinctive merch is a great way to advertise what makes their beer special, and offers customers a way to feel more attached to what they do.”

Cal Holland, marketing manager at Hackney Brewery said: “In our opinion a great brewery t-shirt needs to make the wearer feel comfortable, you’re asking them to wear and promote your brand so it needs to cater to what people want in a t-shirt. It’s all about creating something people really want to wear once they’ve bought one from us, and not just chuck in a draw when they get home!”

Sarah Hardy, marketing manager at North Brewing said: “Branded merchandise helps foster a connection between the brewery and the customer that is integral to the development of the relationship with trade customers.”

6 breweries with the best beer shirts.

Hackney Brewery

Hackney Brewery’s t-shirts are designed with both the brand and wearer in mind. Their range of colour schemes,  bold and more subtle designs ensure that there is a t-shirt for every customer in mind. With such eye-catching and playful designs on their beer cans, it’s no surprise that this style has transferred effortlessly onto their merch.

Cal said: “The designs for all our t-shirts were created by Pete Fowler, he’s the illustrator we work with for all our beer designs and branding. There’s three with large illustrations on the front that feature recognisable characters and motifs from our core range of beers to showcase the brand’s fun side, plus the big visuals work well on a single screen print. Then we have some that are more subtle, t-shirts with smaller pocket logos and illustrations for people who go for a cleaner look.

“We wanted to make sure to include small details like the back neck print (inspired by classic US brewery t-shirts) to show that thought and effort has gone into the design. Colour played an important aspect in choosing the t-shirts as well. It often feels like British people may love bright colours but not necessarily wear them as a t-shirt, so we kept to subtle dark green & navy’s alongside black and white.”

North Brewing

North Brewing merch uses simple, aesthetically pleasing lines and shapes to create striking, minimalist clothing that is sure to grab attention while being distinctly North Brewery. The stark, simple designs of their t-shirts has helped them grow as an instantly recognisable brewery in the North of England.

Sarah Hardy, marketing manager at North Brewing Co said: “The inspiration for our can designs which inform the t-shirts is varied. We usually begin with a name, which can come from an album title, a geographical reference, or a phrase from a piece of poetry. The name then often informs the colours used, alongside the time period referenced in the design. Our designs are created by James Ockleford from Refold Studio, who has been a close friend of North for years.

“Our designs are motivated by a playful curiosity around how beer can look. We work hard to elevate our cans and t-shirts above what people would expect a brewery to produce. This is achieved through referencing iconic design periods, using elements of nature and re-formatting them through photography and layering, and taking a minimalist, restrained approach to our designs.”


Pillars eschew the usual ale-obsession of independent breweries and are instead passionate champions of the perfect lager. Based in Walthamstow, Pillars bill their brewery and taproom experience as a ‘love letter to craft lager and its drinkers’. Pillars’ brand identity is built around a kind of psychedelic steampunk aesthetic that is instantly eye-catching, and their distinctive ICON tees are cleverly designed to reveal a bold graphic when the bartender turns around to pull pints.

Camden Town 

Camden Town Brewery is perhaps one of London’s most prolific craft breweries, and you can spot their castle logo on taps across the city. Another brewer that champions the oft-overlooked lager, they have taken their red and black branding and run with it. Not only do they dress their staff in a range of Camden Town branded apparel, but they have created their own distinctive pint glasses so that drinkers in any pub still enjoy a slice of the brewery experience.


Any regular visitor to Hackney Wick has probably found themselves sitting by the canal, enjoying a pint of Crate Brewery beer and a slice of their equally delicious pizza. One of the first new businesses to open in what is now a thriving island of clubs, bars and venues, Crate have cemented themselves as Hackney Wick institution. Their ‘C’ logo and all of their beer labels cleverly distort a cube design, nodding to the shape of their namesake crate.


Beavertown are another London brewery with a rather trippy visual identity. Their bright and brash cans stand out on taps and in fridges, reeling in curious customers who want to try something new. Designer Nick Dwyer has worked with Beavertown from the start, and his hallucinogenic, skeleton-heavy designs are probably just as beloved as the beers they decorate. Having such a unique designer on-hand means that Beavertown can create and sell merchandise that feels truly in step with their brand – a little out-there, but always great quality.

Want to create merch for your craft brewery? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting clients such as Pillars, Mother Kelly’s and Meantime. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.


Notes to editors

About ICON

ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting a number of clients in the coffee trade, as well as clients ranging from such as WeWork to Boiler Room and the Tate. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.


Press release from ICON Printing

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