Interview: Designers of the Colonial Small Ale can

Okay, I am going to be super up front here and say that this post was supposed to go up several months ago when Colonial Small Ale can first hit shelves and stole hearts. By my calculations that makes this post about four months late. Pretty embarrassing but I think these interviews and fun and interesting and it would be a shame not to put them out there. Plus the interviewees gave me their time and efforts and, quite frankly, its poor form on my behalf to not have gotten to this before.

So here we have my interview with the men behind the gorgeous Small Ale can design – Dune Haggar and Ian Mutch.

A Little Background …

Colonial Brewing Co. | Margaret River, WA | Facebook | Instagram

The Colonial Small Ale can is special in a number of ways. For one, it is an excellent beer and just 3.5% ABV. Two, it has a lid that completely comes off. This 360 degree lid is the first one in Australia. The very audible POP when you open a can is surprisngly satisfying and its appeal is also functional as it allows you to stick your nose in to get to all the beautiful aromatics. Finally, the unique can art makes it almost impossible to throw it away.

Colonial Small Ale lid

Colonial Small Ale - Brews in the Beer Garden at The Blvd

The Designers …

Dune Haggar is a graphic designer and illustrator working in Dunsborough, WA. Ian Mutch, who hails from the south west as well, is an artist whose exhibitions have been featured from Margaret River to London. Together Dune and Ian, along with the Emergence Creative Festival and, of course, Colonial Brewing created the gorgeous Small Ale design.

Dune and Ian were kind enough to give me their time to answer a few questions back in late March.

The Interview …

What did you think when you first tried Colonial Small Ale?

Ian: I thought “Woahhhh! That’s a crazy ring pull lid”

Dune: Same, I hadn’t seen that kind of ring pull and was thinking about my upcoming Upcycling Event and how I could of used them in a demonstration. I also wanted to see the temperature activated ink in action but mine was probably about 6.5 degrees.

What was the brief you were given in designing the can?

Ian: The illustration was based on the recent artwork we did for Emergence Creative Festival to represent small details and facets of the festival.

Dune: What he said, but more suave.

Have you guys collaborated before? In what ways do you complement/challenge each other?

Ian: Or first collaboration was the recent branding work for Emergence [Creative], just before doing the can. Our styles are both in small details and narrative but if you look closer there actually quite different in things like line-weight, objects, characters and things. We actually have a couple more collaboration projects in the pipeline.

Dune: I really like the flow between our work as our complexity and creature characters complement each other. I liked working with another graphic designer too as we plan well and then let our illustrator brains freestyle it a bit and give it a little chaos.

THERE’S a lot happening on the can, I NOTICED the #2 in the design which I assume references the second beer to be canned by Colonial, what does the rest of the design represent?

Ian: Yeah, the #2 was also brief requirement, kind of like “if you can throw that in there that would be great too.” The can mainly represents the collaboration between Emergence Creative and Colonial. For me it’s representing creatives of the festival combined with down south and necking nice beer.

Dune: Ian said a good sentence, I will not attempt to rearrange his words as mine … *claps*

Colonial Small Ale cans

Where did you look for inspiration?

Ian: Stories from random drunk people I’ve met along the way.

Dune: Crazy nights, day dreams, novels, the world around us, world events and music to name a few.

What was the most challenging part of the design?

Ian: Because printing onto a metal can is a much different process from printing on paper, it was a challenge representing ‘small’ with details without making the artwork too intricate for the printing guys. That and the fact that I had a broken leg at the time.

Dune: Yes, the printing method, limited PMS inks and printing on the can were the defining considerations. But sometimes having these limitations can help when you set out to work on a limitless piece. I had no broken legs at the time.

What was the easiest?

Ian: A can is only a small area to cover so made things easy. Especially when you’re in a collab and covering just half of the area. Also the guys from Emergence, Colonial and the agency were a real cruise to work with and gave us a pretty open brief.

Dune: Yes, having a relaxed system really helps get things done right and on time. No middle management meetings about HR etc.

It’s such a unique design, particularly for a beer, how has the feedback been to it?

Ian: I think everyone’s pretty into the looseness of it, especially in a market that seems to be saturated with more vintage types of label designs. Mostly though I think everyone’s mind is blown with the large mouth top of the can.

Dune: The mouth on the thing is great (even for flavour reasons alone) but I have found people are really keen to chat about it. It’s not like we designed a Dungeons and Dragons mouse pad etc. People at Emergence were physically holding the cans while we chatted so it really is that special hands on thing. If I was rich enough and strong enough I would forgo business cards and just carry around beer customised beer cans.


The can was awarded SILVER in the 2015 Australian International Beer Awards in the category of ‘Labels/Surface Graphic on Bottles or Cans’

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