Hop Federation Brewery

One of New Zealand’s best craft breweries

In 2013, Simon and Nicki Nicholas left their high-pressure Auckland life behind and moved with their first baby in tow to Riwaka, a small settlement in the heart of New Zealand’s prime hop-growing region. In September that year, Hop Federation opened the doors to their craft brewery—with a core range of four beers and a huge vision!

Fast forward to 2017 and they now have two little ones and Hop Federation is one of the leading craft breweries in New Zealand—with their beers available in bottles and on tap throughout the country.

Branding and label design

The main challenge in designing a totally new brand for a craft brewery is remembering that we are designing it for the market—and for the future. In 2013, most successful craft breweries had the hipster, grungy, “distressed” design look going on. We were fans of this style at the time, too, although our leaning was more towards the minimalist end of the spectrum.

With Hop Federation, we wanted to look ahead and not just follow the design trends of the time. We wanted to create a brand that was elegant and classy but not pretentious or inaccessible to the changing demographic of craft beer drinkers.

Most of the other craft beers at the time had black or dark labels, too, so, in order to stand out on the shelves, we were keen to do a predominantly white label—with the dark version reserved for limited edition seasonal releases.

Funnily enough, most of the seasonal beers were so popular, they have become firmly locked into the core range of Hop Federation beers.

Hop Federation original core beer collection

Design and development of Shopify site

While they don’t actually sell directly through their website, we built the Hop Federation website on Shopify because it enabled us to build a beautiful, simple, elegant website that accommodates their rapidly-expanding product range. And it gives us the ability to easily switch on the e-commerce functionality when they do start selling online.

View the Hop Federation website.

Custom Shopify site for Hop Federation Brewery

Design of Silver Award poster for Pale Ale

An interesting challenge with Hop Federation has been how to add new beers to the range while keeping the colour palette consistent but varied enough to help each beer stand out. The posters were designed for bars and pubs to promote Hop Federation when on tap and they have continued the strong, minimalist style of the overall brand while calling out and highlighting the primary colour associated with each individual beer.

Hop Federation Silver Award Poster

Design of retail six-pack packaging

It didn’t take long for Hop Federation to get picked up by supermarkets around New Zealand and, before long, there was increasing demand to expand from individually-sold 500ml bottles and plastic riggers to six-packs. The challenge, design-wise, was that early on the print volumes were low so we had to come up with a design that wasn’t expensive in short print runs but that still carried the elegance of the brand.

Hop Federation six pack design