Beer, Wine & Spirits

2015 most loved beer label field is set, 4 contenders emerge

CNBC is once again setting out to find the most loved beer label. So we asked beer drinkers and breweries for the labels that caught their eye in 2014, and now it's almost time to vote.

Allowing for one label per brewery, CNBC separated the breweries into to four regions of 16, (roughly according to geography). The match-ups within each region were done by random draw.

Reminder: This is not about which beer you think tastes the best. Ultimately if the beer inside the bottle is subpar, it doesn't matter what's on the outside. However, the goal here is to celebrate and showcase some of the creativity being done on labels and cans by breweries and artists nationwide.

The voting on this year's field of 64 kicks is now live.

Four labels to watch

While the field of 64 in this year's Most Loved Label contest contains many great entries, there are a few breweries that for a variety of reasons should be formidable competitors. Here are four labels to watch as CNBC's Most Loved Label contest kicks off.

Troegs Brewery Hop Knife Harvest Ale

Troegs Bros. Hop Knife Harvest Ale
Source: Troegs Bros.

The brewery behind the label that claimed the first Most Loved Label crown is back to defend its title.

Troegs' Nugget Nectar claimed the top spot in CNBC's first contest, edging out Boulevard Brewing's Reverb by a score of 1,622 to 1,602. Nugget Nectar put up solid scores in each round of voting, leading the brewery's Ed Yashinsky to say, "We're not in as large a market as some of the other breweries, but (the) Nugget Nectar logo is really striking and it stands out."

Troegs' is sticking with the hops theme this time around with its Hop Knife Harvest Ale label, which features hops on the vine. The label is a reflection of a beer brewed to honor "the meticulous, time-honored tradition of hand-harvesting hops at the peak of maturity."

Boulevard Brewing Pop Up Session IPA

Boulevard Brewing Co. Pop-Up Session IPA.
Source: Boulevard Brewing Co.

Kansas City's beloved brewery cruised through the early rounds in the original Most Loved Label contest before narrowly losing to Nugget Nectar. Boulevard fans are extremely passionate toward their hometown beer, making any Boulevard label submission a favorite to go a long way.

Boulevard is hoping to claim the top spot with the label for Pop-Up Session IPA. The camping motif displayed on the label reflects the lower alcohol content of the Pop-Up for occasions where beer drinkers may want something lower in alcohol.

Stone Brewing w00tstout 2.0

Stone Brewing w00tstout 2.0
Source: Stone Brewing Co.

Despite growing to the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States, Stone Brewing Co. has never forgotten its beer geek roots. The brewery paid homage to geekdom with the original w00stout, a collaboration with homebrewer, actor and self-proclaimed professional geek Wil Wheaton and's Drew Curtis.

For w00tstout 2.0, actress and comedian Aisha Tyler joined the collaboration. The brewery turned to comic book artist Dave Gibbons to sketch the collaborators for the label art. The combination of beer geekery meets comic geekery makes Stone Brewing Co. one to watch in the most loved label contest.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
Source: Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery President and founder Sam Calagione has always viewed brewing as a creative outlet. To that end, Calagione is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to combine Dogfish's talents with those of artists and musicians. That's why in 2014, the brewery turned to artist Jermaine Rogers to put his spin on the labels for Dogfish Head's seasonal releases. Rogers didn't disappoint with a series of eye-catching designs.

Like the defending label champion Troegs, Dogfish Head may not be be as widely distributed as some other breweries in the contest, but its fans are as passionate as they come. Add in Rogers' unique twist on Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale label and it makes Dogfish an entry to watch as the contest gets underway.