Yeastie Boys win gold for open source beer
New Zealand brewing company Yeastie Boys added a gold medal for design to the growing swag of international gongs they
have recently won for their leftfield ales, when they were awarded gold for their open source Digital IPA in the
Packaging Class at the Sutton Group Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards last week.
Digital IPA, a robustly hopped India Pale Ale that has fast become one of Yeastie Boys’ most popular beers, features
five Quick Response (QR) codes on the distinctive metallic-blue label. The QR codes link to various web pages including
one containing the full recipe of the beer, making Digital IPA one of the world’s first open source beers.
Christchurch design company Deflux worked on the label for Digital IPA – a beer named after a 1978 song by post punk
band Joy Division – after the Yeastie Boys mentioned they wanted to make the recipe open source. "The monotony of the
phrase 'day in day out' from the song was what flipped the switch for this label concept" said Simon Courtney, Deflux
Art Director. "That led us into the mono-colour metallic blue print, metallic blue reminded us of robots and robots are
digital… so it all tied in nicely. The use of QR codes stems from the strong social voice of the Yeastie Boys and a
feeling that the space on a label couldn't fully say everything about this beer, or encapsulate who the Yeastie Boys are
and what they stand for."
Yeastie Boys' founder and Creative Director Stu McKinlay says the name has confused quite a few consumers. "Digital
really amused me as a beer name because of the fact that a beer - unlike the music that inspires much of our work -
cannot be downloaded for free. It has be purchased from a commercial brewery or brewed at home with your own sweat and
tears. But giving people a link to the recipe almost makes it digital" McKinlay said. "In regards to giving the recipe
away via the QR code, we get asked all the time about whether it is a good idea to give away our intellectual property.
Our belief is that education is one of the keys to keeping people engaged in the process of making and drinking great
beer. Chefs do it all the time, so why shouldn’t we? Perhaps this label will be the first step to New Zealand’s first
craft brewing recipe book."
The packaging for Digital IPA wasn’t rewarded for the use of new physical materials in the container itself, or in the
label, nor does it contain any sort of gimmicky pouring mechanism found in some better known products. It was rewarded
for doing something far more important for craft beer – a sub-sector of the brewing industry that sometimes focuses too
introspectively, on simply making great beer, and not enough on getting that beer to market and keeping it there. The
label opens a link between Yeastie Boys and their customers, engaging them in a two-way conversation via social media
and giving them the opportunity to brew the beer themselves. The consumer then becomes the producer and, as such, a
virtual sales force for better beer in general. Of course, once the packaging has been scanned and the bottle has been
opened, it is only the quality of the beer that resells the product and Digital IPA is receiving rave reviews.
"The proudest moment I have experienced with this label was not the feedback from happy homebrewers who had used the
recipe, or excited open source geeks who had seen their digital ideas in the beer world, but a few minutes spent in a
bottle store watching a mum and dad eagerly showing their children how the QR codes worked." said McKinlay. "It wasn’t
some weird thing where we were engaging with a potential future customer that excited me but the fact that our label had
transcended its traditional form. It was no longer a simple means of explaining what the beer tasted like and what its
vital regulatory statistics were. It was a means of engaging people deeper into the world of craft beer - a very good
place to be."
Yeastie Boys Digital IPA is distributed exclusively in New Zealand via BeerNZ Ltd and is also exported to Australia,
Europe, Singapore and USA. It was recently selected as the official beer of the Fab8NZ Conference at Wellington's Massey
University later this month. Fab8NZ is a conference about open design in digital fabrication, which will also see the
opening of the southern hemisphere’s first Fab Lab, and brings together participants from 30 countries.
Digital IPA bottle shot: http://db.tt/r2PkcRoR
About Yeastie Boys
The Yeastie Boys - Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie - are the dynamic duo of New Zealand's craft beer scene. They burst
onto the beer landscape with two trophies for their flagship porter Pot Kettle Black at BrewNZ 2009 and have remained
firmly ensconced there ever since. Their latest achievements include a trifecta of major international awards in the
last year including Champion Beer at The Asia Beer Awards, People's Choice at The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular
and the Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. The Yeastie Boys say that they
stay ahead of the game by being food and drink lovers first and foremost and postmodern craft beer cult heroes on the