In the last several years, Virginia emerged as a developing craft beer landscape, with destination spots like Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Aslin Beer Company and Smartmouth Brewing Company continuing to create new and innovative efforts, sometimes gaining national attention in the process.
Last week, Virginia-based New Realm Brewing Company gained its own attention, earning one of the industry’s newest top honors though not for a beer but, rather, for the look of the can label of a beer. The brewery, which was founded back in 2016 in Atlanta and quickly opened a second spot in Virginia Beach, took home the top prize in the People’s Choice Award as the country’s Best 16-ounce Can Design for Tyrannosaurus Flex, a limited edition Hazy Double IPA, at the first-ever Craft Beer Marketing Awards.
Also known as “The Crushies,” the newly-formed awards feature more than 30 unique categories judged by industry leaders recognizing all aspects of beer marketing including best can, best social media, best merchandise design and coolest taproom.
The judges ultimately selected the nominees for the people’s choice awards and then left it up to voting on social media. Tyrannosaurus Flex’s can has a kind of Miami Vice theme to it, with a purple background of silhouetted trees, a pink sun and a T-Rex, complete with sunglasses, flexing his tiny dino arms, front-and-center, almost like the Kong: Skull Island poster. The label was designed by Erik Leach, who might be a familiar name.
Leach was the brainchild behind the look of Saturday Morning IPA, a beer from Smartmouth that was brewed with Lucky Charms and helped spark a fleeting nationwide trend. He designed most of the can to look a lot like the cereal box – though he didn’t fully complete it before leaving the company.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, Leach has spent a year and a half at New Realm and is the artist behind many of the brewery’s specialty labels. Its year-round beers mostly have the same template for the look, so special releases allow him to be creative, taking three weeks to a month to design each label, while he works with his team to brainstorm ideas. Inside the Tyrannosaurus Flex can is a 8.5 percent ABV Hazy DIPA hopped with Wai-iti, Motueka and Rakau hops, all of which are exclusive to New Zealand, to create a juicy, fruity beer that New Realm claims is “the ruler of the realm.”
It’s certainly the best looking, according to the masses.