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’

A bunch of brewers walk into a bar …

… and they drink, share and chat about the collaboration beer they made. If you were expecting a joke, sorry, if you were expecting this to be a very tasty beer, you’re right.

Last month a few brewers from the south west got together and made a beer. If I was to be more accurate I would say that seven brewers made a beer. If I was to be even more accurate I’d say seven brewers threw in some malt, hops and yeast in between long bouts of standing around and chatting and with that in mind the brew was dubbed …

The Council Worker

The Council Worker made it’s debut at Perth’s Five Bar event – South West in the City Festival. It was poured alongside Cowaramup Pilsner, Duckstein Fest Bier, Colonial Small Ale, Cheeky Monkey DIPA and Eagle Bay ESB. In short you could have taken a trip to several south west breweries without getting up from your bar stool.

WA Beer Week – 8th – 17th November | Check out http://www.wabeerweek.com for all the information

With WA Beer Week less than two weeks away it was a nice way to warm up the beer muscles and it was great to see so many faces from the WA beer community like Brian Fitzgerald, President of the Western Australian Brewers Association, Reece Wheadon from WA Beer Week and The Monk brewer Paul Wyman. A few of the brewers responsible for The Council Worker, Jared and Alex from Cheeky Monkey, Nick from Eagle Bay and Jeremy from Cowaramup Brewing made it to the event too, Jeremy fresh off the plane from Sydney’s Craft Beer Week, to mingle, drink and share the beer with some thirsty punters.

I know I look drunk in this photo but I only had two beers, I blame lots of laughing and my own poor timing for my appearance. I should also say that Nick isn’t that tall and under no circumstances was he standing on a couple of wine buckets.

Jeremy (Cowaramup), Jared (Cheeky Monkey), Nick (Eagle Bay), Paul (The Monk) Alex and Dave (Cheeky Monkey), some writer chick and Mitch aka Beersine
Jeremy (Cowaramup), Jared (Cheeky Monkey), Nick (Eagle Bay), Paul (The Monk)
Alex and Dave (Cheeky Monkey), some writer chick and Mitch aka Beersine

Sadly a few of the brewers who made this happen couldn’t make it but a milestone in your child’s life is probably a perfectly valid reason; I’m looking at you Foxy. On the up side it did allow me to insert myself into the photo, after all I did a lot of very important stirring.

Me and some malt

The Council Worker ended up a pretty heavily hopped pale ale thanks to a big dose of Galaxy in the dry hopping. This beer definitely had some balls along with big fruity and piney flavours that you’d expect from an American style pale but balanced out really nicely with big malt that gave it an almost caramel undertone.

Since I was driving I allowed myself just two beers and the second was a tough choice. I had salivated at the idea of Cheeky Monkey’s Double IPA but at 8.3% abv I can’t imagine mister police officer understanding how a beer can be irresistible. Instead I went for Colonial’s Small Ale, indulging once again in my recent love for tasty lower alcohol beers.

It’s that damn good that Paul Wyman, head brewer at The Monk, reckons Colonial’s Small Ale will take out a medal or two at this years Perth Royal Beer Show.

Congratulations to The Monk & brewer Paul Wyman on their Beer & Brewer Magazine Awards!

On the subject of awards Paul was runner up for Young Brewer of the Year and his venue The Monk took out Best Brew Pub/Bar all at this years Beer and Brewer Magazine Awards.

Local produce sourced by Beersine and Katrina Lane (Taste of Balingup)

Like any beer event at Five Bar the beer was accompanied by some sensational food, namely a South West Ploughman’s Board by Beersine, aka Mitch Mitchell. I am proud to say that I devoured this board in a most unladylike fashion.

Smoked big red pork and hazelnut terrine, Colonial pale ale cheese, red cabbage Kim chee, pickled colcotte and salad onions with cooladerra extra virgin olive oil.
Smoked big red pork and hazelnut terrine, Colonial pale ale cheese, red cabbage Kim chee, pickled colcotte and salad onions with cooladerra extra virgin olive oil.

I left this event with a huge smile on my face, a new beer mug and pumped for WA Beer Week!

I don’t know how much of The Council Worker was left at Five but if it’s still there I’d highly recommend checking it out. For those of us in the south west, keep an eye out because it may pop up at the likes of The Pourhouse, Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and/or participating breweries.

Thank you to Margi and the team at Eagle Bay Brewing for hosting the collaboration and inviting me along, Macca and the guys at Five Bar for letting everyone invade the bar, all the brewers who got involved and of course to all the smiling beery folk who rocked up to support WA beer. See you all in a fortnight!

#temptingtuesday – October

It feels like low booze beers are difficult to come across in our beloved craft beer world in which demand for flavour continues to surpass higher and higher peaks. I think about low ABV (alcohol by volume) beers when I know I’ll have to drive but with more and more extremely tasty low booze beers available it’s time to remember they are no longer just for times of responsibility.

What the heck is #temptingtuesday I hear you say? (well, in my head you do). It’s combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer. The mechanics are simple, just like its author, where on the first Tuesday of each month I ask the big wide Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and silly little trinkets have made their way into Coles and Woolworths supermarkets which means we must be in October.

October’s #temptingtuesday was …

What’s your favourite beer that’s under 4% abv?

“Small Beer” is a ye olde type of English beer, very low in booze and common until the 19th century. It was a beer for anyone regardless of age or class. It was also considered a good alternative to water since water quality could be very poor. Health advice has certainly changed …

This question was inspired by two things –

1) I recently discovered the wonderfulness that is Brewdog Dead Pony Club, a 3.8% California Pale Ale from Scotland.

2) Last week Margaret River’s Colonial Brewing introduced their recent limited release Small Ale into the permanent line up. The Small Ale is a reduced alcohol IPA clocking in at 3.5% abv.

I recently wrote a post about my new found love for Brewdog Dead Pony Club and the lower alcohol beers I’ve enjoyed so far but thanks to #temptingtuesday I’ve now got a long list to seek out!

Brewdog Dead Pony Club

Colonial’s Small Ale is now available at all good Colonial outlets and is, as Brewery Manager Richard Moroney describes it, “deliciously responsible”

Colonial's Small Ale

It feels like low booze beers are hard to come across in the craft beer world, a world in which demand for things to be “bigger” seems to grow. I think about low ABV (alcohol by volume) beers when I know I’ll have to drive but with more and more extremely tasty options available it’s time to remember they are no longer just for times of responsibility.

So, what were people’s favourite beers under 4% abv? Prepare to copy and paste these into your beer shopping lists folks!

Feral Brewing (WA) Watermelon Warhead

Cheeky Monkey (WA) Travelling Monk

Birbeck’s Brewing (SA) The Captain

Brewdog (SCOT) Dead Pony Club

Emerson’s (UK) Bookbinder

Mornington’s (VIC) Little Irish Red Ale

Murray’s (NSW) Punch & Judy’s Ale

The Monk (WA) Mild

Old Coast Road (WA) Bitter

Moor (UK) Revival

Colonial Brewing (WA) Small Ale

Redemption (UK) Trinity

And special mention to my friend Scott Bennett and his homebrew The Postman that cracked a mention or two!