Interview: Designers of the Colonial Small Ale can

An embarrassingly long overdue post featuring an interview I did with Ian Mutch and Dune Haggar who designed the Colonial Brewing Co. Small Ale can print

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’

Weekend Reading #31

Articles this week from my new favourite Craft Beer Rising (UK) and local stuff from Australian Brews News & The Sip

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

The West Australian | Big Deal for Colonial Small Ale

Kicking things off with something very local with the news that Colonial’s super sessionable and super tasty Small Ale, yup that was a lot of S’s, has been canned.

The new 360 degree can, meaning it lifts the top off rather than just a small opening, lets people get their noses stuck into the beer and releases all its brilliant aroma in all its glory.

Release the hops, Small Ale is here. Plus the can looks really freakin’ cool thanks to come great design work by Emergence Creative.

Australian Brews News | Get busy drinkin’ or get very boring

Staying in Australia we have another great read, because the content on Australian Brews News is always tops, is some thoughts on enjoying craft beer. Recently it feels that craft beer articles are appearing more and more in mainstream media and they all tend to be the same, either stating craft beer is expensive or craft beer people are snobs. It’s like writing an article comparing Nobu to the sushi at the servo. Anyway, the same things tend to happen, the article gets clickbaitingly savaged, beer geeks get offended and lather, rinse repeat elsewhere. Pete Mitcham, the author of this article, offers a few measured thoughts.

CNN Money | How to start a successful craft beer brewery

More than some sort of guide, I thought this was interesting to see what it was like for someone opening a brewery in the US.

It is particularly interesting during this time in the US when craft breweries seem to be opening left, right and centre (at least that is the impression I get from reading articles on the internet). And last years Brewers Association conference left this super quotable line that I just love,

“Don’t fuck it up,”

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association

Not every craft beer is amazing but amazing beer is well crafted.

More on the Brewers Association conference from last year and that great quote here.

ISSUU | Craft Beer Rising Issue 3

I have ben really enjoying this ISSUU app for my beer reading recently and Craft Beer Rising comes out of London but it is interesting to see the many parallels between their market and ours. There’s lots of good reading here but in particular I liked this short list from Melissa Cole.

2015 Predictions

WA Beer Week: Dude Food Feast

Eating sticky chicken wings with my hands at the beautiful venue like The Trustee Bar & Bistro is kinda like wearing a gorgeous evening dress and a pair of thongs. It’s kinda wrong but there’s no denying that it’s really, really good.

Eating sticky chicken wings with my hands at a beautiful venue like The Trustee Bar & Bistro is kinda like wearing a gorgeous evening dress and a pair of thongs. It’s kinda wrong but there’s no denying that it’s really, really good.

On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Dude Food Feast’ presented by The Trustee and Mane Liquor as part of WA Beer Week. Imagine the tastiest dude food you’ve ever stuck into your face paired with fresh WA beer and set in one of the city’s most beautiful venues and you have a good idea of what my Tuesday night was like.

Roxy and Josh

The beers were selected and presented by Roxy and Josh from Mane Liquor and the food was created by The Trustee Executive Chef Michelle Forbes who, to quote my good friend Jess Shaver, is “so f**king kick ass it’s not even funny”.

Jess was right, Michelle and her food was nothing short of kick ass.


Pork Slider + Colonial Small Ale

The pork had been marinated for 15 hours and its richness was a great match to the bold hops in the Small Ale and the bread was a little on the sweet side highlighting the subtle caramel malt in the beer.

First Entree

Crispy Squid + Cheeky Monkey New Zealand Pilsner

“It’s real tasty”

How Alex, head brewer Cheeky Monkey, described his beer to Josh, Mane Liquor

The squid was thick crumbed and served with chilli aioli and dill mayonnaise, it was also a serving so big that I fear there are no more squid in the oceans. The beer, brewed by Alex and Ross at Cheeky Monkey, uses three New Zealand hop varieties – Dr Rudi, Motueka and Wakatu and the resulting beer was a gorgeous mix of soft tropical fruits and citrus notes. The beer cut through the thick crumb on the squid and the hops were drawn out by the chilli aioli. My favourite part of this dish was the dill mayonnaise cutting through the fresh hops and adding another layer of flavour. Paired with the food, the beer started to take on a kind of sweet glazed ham flavour which may not sound amazing but it really was.

photo 4

Second Entree

Sticky Chicken Wings + Bootleg/Mane Liquor Ryezilla

Sticky Chicken Wings & Ryezilla
Sticky Chicken Wings & Ryezilla

The serving of chicken wings made the plate of squid look tiny. Biting into my first wing my palate got a big whack of coriander. Also made with honey, soy, chilli and lemongrass, the wings were deliciously sticky and fabulous fun to eat. Ryezilla, the collaboration beer between Mane Liquor and Bootleg Brewery, is still boasting heaps of juicy pineapple and mango Enigma hop character though it has rounded out nicely. The wings coaxed out the spice in the beer whilst the sweetness from the glaze on the wings and the caramel malt in the beer worked nicely together.

Sticky Chicken Wings
Sticky Chicken Wings


Beef Short Ribs Slow Braised with Sticky BBQ Sauce, Espresso Aubergine Puree + Eagle Bay Cacao Stout

At this stage of the event I was very full, not just regular full but Christmas-dinner-I-went-back-for-thirds kind of full. Then the ribs landed and they were impossible to resist. The meat was rich and stupidly soft, barely holding on to the bone. The sauce had a subtle sweetness and the espresso aubergine puree provided a nice contrast to the richness of the meat, it also lifted the coffee notes from the Cacao Stout.

Pouring Cacao Stout

The Eagle Bay Cacao Stout is their annual winter release and I was a little sad to realise it would probably be a year until this beer was in my hands again. Made from cacao bean husks, the by-product of the chocolate making process, from Margaret River chocolate maker Bahen & Co, the beer is ultra smooth, chocolatey, roasty and with hints of berry fruit.

Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs


Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream + Feral Brewing Razorback Barley Wine

“I’m glad it’s not cheese”

Me reflecting on the final course with words I never thought I would say

When I had the first bite of this dessert it was clear that despite being ready to either burst or fall asleep I was going to eat every part of this amazing dish. The dessert was served with a caramel sauce made with Feral Hop Hog creating a pairing of sweet with sweet when paired with the beer. The roasty flavours of the beer cut through the vanilla wafers and delicate ice cream, this pairing was a great example of when beer and food come together to be amazing and you wouldn’t want to have one without the other.

Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream
Salted Caramel Beer Ice Cream

Thank you Mane Liquor and The Trustee for inviting me to this fantastic event!

GBW 2014: Game of Cones

A Melbourne tramcar restaurant, some silly costumed Colonial men with beer and a food menu by the one and only Beersine

“Tonight, we feast”

These were the words that started the menu for Friday night’s Game of Cones event for Good Beer Week. Held on Melbourne’s iconic Colonial Tramcar restaurant the coincidentally named Colonial Brewery teamed up with beer/food chef Mitch Mitchell aka Beersine to present a menu of beer inspired food matched to hand picked hop driven beers.

We were greeted at tram stop 125 by our Colonial hosts for the night, brewery manager Richard and brewers Justin and Paul who were all suitably dressed in Game of Thrones attire. Recovering from a cold, Paul’s unusually raspy voice added gusto to his already impressive costume whilst Richard’s legs were all too comfortable in black leggings.

Richard and James
I love this photo! [left] Colonial Brewery Manager Richard Moroney [right] Crafty Pint James Smith
On board we filled three tramcars and set off towards St Kilda, each carriage hosted by one of our costumed Colonial friends. The carriage I was on was hosted by Richard who guided us through the menu, discussing the selected beers and the food pairings.

Please pardon my awful phone photography here …

To start we tucked into some spent grain pretzels, made with the leftover malt from after mashing in the brewing process, with ‘I can’t believe it’s hop butter’. We were also treated to Smoked Wort Jubes with Hop Sugar made with Cascade hops; wonderful little cubes that melted in your mouth.

Our starting beer was Colonial’s own Small Ale, a reduced alcohol india pale ale that is a full flavoured, tropical fruit and citrusy beer in a 3.5% ABV responsible body.

Kim Chee, or kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish from Korea that generally uses cabbage as it’s main ingredient

Next up was a kim chee omelette which was served up with collaboration brew My Antonia by American brewery Dogfish Head and Italian brewers Birra del Borgo. My Antonia boasts fresh citrus and pine flavours and a medium bitter finish, a great match to the spicy/sweet character of kim chee and base for the omelette’s fresh chilli to play on.

“Bridgeport is my beer spirit animal,”

Richard explains this feelings for this American craft brewery

The main event was a pork shoulder croquette served up on a celeriac romoulade. To accompany there was Mountain Goat’s Rye IPA and Bridgeport’s IPA. The latter is an IPA favourite amongst the Colonial guys whilst Richard spoke of their admiration for Mountain Goat who have been brewing since 1997 and laid the path for many since.

Beersine cheese is available from Mane Liquor and Cellarbrations Carlisle

As we neared the end of our tramcar ride we were served Beersine’s Pale Ale Cheddar, hop honey and lamb bacon – three life changing foods that I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in in the past. True South Black Rock India Lager and New Zealand’s 8 Wired Fresh Hopwired landed on our tables to accompany. The Fresh Hopwired was mind blowing and exactly as it sounds, a fresh and punchy and ridiculously good with the Pale Ale Cheddar and hop honey. Meanwhile lamb bacon in all it’s sweet, fatty goodness happily went with the Black Rock India Lager.

We departed off the tram, some of us smuggling whatever we couldn’t bare to leave behind, whether that be beer or that last precious chunk of cheese, and jumped on a bus to go to The Botanical. More beer and food goodness was unleashed with lamingtons and Colonial’s Gazza, the limited released Australian IPA. Made with all Aussie malts and hops I think Richard says it best:

“It’s big and it’s loud and it’s hairy”

… and it ends not with a bang but with a lot of beer The tramcar leaves us at The Botanical

Thank you to Colonial who gifted my seat to this wonderful event, I keep telling them if they spoil me like this I’ll keep coming back. I think they are now stuck with me. But in all sincerity, thank you very much!