Follow the LAAW: BottleMark

There are few things that add as much excitement to an already great home brew or commercial beer as labels and bottlecaps.  We’ve been incredibly lucky to have Ken Barnes as part of our team.  His label artwork, Los Angeles Ale Works branding, and industry experience have been an incredible boon to shaping who we are as a brand.  That being said, how do you showcase great artwork when you haven’t gone full commercial yet?  Fortunately, there are some affordable options, and we are going to talk about one of the coolest, BottleMark.
BottleMark specializes in custom bottle caps.  They make it incredibly easy to upload your artwork and order full color caps.  The premise is simple: take any jpeg or image file and upload it to their template.  The template looks like a bottle cap so you can easily center it and apply zoom.  Like most online printing services, there are even warnings that tell you if your image is the right resolution or if there may be pixelation.  After you’ve uploaded and centered your image, choose the number of caps you want and viola, you’ll get them in the mail promptly.  At 12 cents a cap, the price is pretty good.  If you are a full scale brewery in need of a massive amount of caps, it may not be cost effective, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered competitive pricing for manufacturing breweries.
I ordered caps for both Los Angeles Ale Works and Bierkast, and both look great.  The colors are vibrant, and the detail is pretty fine.  The printing is also pretty robust, so it stands up to being clanked around.  If you are looking for a way to spruce up your home brews, a gift, or to test out a bottle cap design concept, definitely check out BottleMark.  BottleMark will also turn your cap into a magnet, punch a hole in it (earrings, keychains), or flatten it – very versatile.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Haley at BottleMark about the company and how they started.  Check it out below:
Bierkast: How did you get started doing bottle caps? 

BottleMark: My husband (J. Cameron Cooper) first came up with the idea when he started homebrewing years ago. He and his buddy brewed more than they could drink, so they had trouble keeping different batches straight in the fridge. Turns out this is a fairly common problem for homebrewers! Labels are expensive and a pain to put on and take off, but bottle caps are cheap and come on and off anyway–so why not use caps to identify brews? Cameron looked into it and soon discovered that custom cap manufacturers require a minimum order of about 400,000 caps–hardly within the reach of most homebrewers. The big guys use a time-consuming and complicated off-set plate printing process, so they restrict designs and require minimum orders. And that’s why a lot of craft breweries have one-design-fits-all bottle caps; they simply don’t brew enough to order beer-specific crowns. Cameron figured that if he wanted custom caps, other brewers might, too, so back in 2010 he set to work on both the hardware and software that make BottleMark possible. We launched in the summer of 2011, with the chief goal of serving homebrewers worldwide. We’ve got low prices so you can have caps for every batch, no design restrictions, no minimum orders, and an online design tool that makes ordering a custom design fast and easy. BottleMark is all about no fuss. Cameron does all the web-technology and management, I head the creative projects like design and publicity, and we both do lots of everything in-between. Do I think it’s absolutely hilarious that bottle caps have taken over my life? Yes. Yes I do.

Bierkast: Are you a home brewer? 

BottleMark: Cameron started homebrewing out of college, and after our wedding, he introduced me to brewing, and I love it. We’re not terribly sophisticated or super-inventive, but we have a good time. We like to make brews that we can’t readily get locally, like an Australian Galaxy-hopped IPA, a hoppier steam beer than Anchor makes, or an ESB. Our yellow lab loves it when we brew–she enjoys the heck out of our spent grains. Needless to say, we bottle everything with a custom cap; it’s one of the perks of the business. We’re both big-time craft beer connoisseurs (it would not be inaccurate to say we fell in love over beer), and the scene here in Houston has recently picked up speed with new micro-breweries and craft-centric bars opening in the last few years. Even the Texas Renaissance Festival is brewing its own beer! It was historically accurate and delicious.

Bierkast: What are you visions for the company for the present / future?

BottleMark: BottleMark is the only company digitally printing bottle caps. We’re built more like a start-up than a small business, so we expect big things in the future. We’ve been printing full-time for many months now, and we’re starting to transition into printing round-the-clock. It’s essential to us that we deliver custom caps to our customers in a reasonable time, so we’re always working on ways to improve efficiency to meet our growing demand. I expect that digital printing will eventually take over the entire printing market, so of course I plan on BottleMark being at the front-lines of that revolution. Who knows? We’ve marketed almost exclusively to homebrewers, but I know we haven’t reached everyone yet–not even close. But that’s beginning to change. The next step? Affordable, easy-to-remove, cooler-proof labels.

Bierkast: Is there any information you’d like people to know about your company?  

BottleMark: We’re proud to ship many boxes of custom caps internationally. BottleMark’s a big hit in the Scandavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as well as in the U.K. and down under in Australia and New Zealand–not coincidentally, all the places that take homebrewing seriously. Also, we’ve discovered that custom caps are particularly popular in December. If you want to give six-packs with custom caps for the holidays, plan ahead: the sooner you place your order, the better!

Find out more at www.bottlemark.com or read their blog at http://bottlemark.blogspot.com! Happy Capping. 

http://bottlemark.blogspot.com/

About Kristofor Barnes

Kip is the founder of Bierkast and co-founder of Los Angeles Ale Works. Picking up home brewing after college, he has since become an accomplished award winning home brewer, LA Beer Blogger, and author of the Beer Lover's Guide to Southern California. Kip is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Cinema Television. He lives in Inglewood, CA with his sciency wife Katie. Follow him @bierkast or #FollowTheLAAW @laaleworks

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