In the end there was no denying Betsy the purple cow.
After two weeks and thousands of votes, Newburgh Brewing Co.'s Cream Ale beer label was crowned the 2015 winner of CNBC's Most Loved Label competition, besting Founders Brewing's Dark Penance by a final tally of 2,101 to 1,148.
"We went up against some great breweries and labels, and the fact that our Cream Ale ended up being the winner is really a testament to the support we got from the local community," said Paul Halayko, chief operating officer and president of Newburgh Brewing Co.
It's a fitting result, as both the label and the beer pay tribute to the company's origins.
"Cream Ale is one of the few styles of beer that is indigenous to New York state," Halayko said. "It was a New York state brewer that created this style of beer, and this is our interpretation of a New York original."
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Halayko, a former vice president at JPMorgan, left finance to partner with his high school friend, Christopher Basso, to open Newburgh Brewing Co. in 2012. The brewery is located in downtown Newburgh, New York, in a 160-year-old brick warehouse along the Hudson River.
The company, which produced 2,000 barrels of beer in 2014, only began canning its beer in April of last year.
When it came time to create a design for the Cream can, the city of Newburgh and its location in the Hudson Valley were top of mind.
In addition to Betsy the cow, the design—created by Matt Bouloutian from the design firm Modern Good—contains references to the brewery's location. Local touches include an image of the city with the words, "This beer was born here," as well as an image of the brewery's historic building with the Hudson Valley in the background.
The display of local pride wasn't lost on Newburgh Brewing's neighbors, many of whom spread the word about the brewery's entry in the Most Loved Label contest, and worked to keep the brewery advancing through each round.
"All of a sudden all these local businesses, some that don't even have anything to do with our brewery or our beer, were telling people to go out and vote, being proud of the fact this was a company that was in their backyard," Halayko said.
While Founders Brewing's Dark Penance label came up short in the championship round, the brewery's senior graphic designer, Brett Haberkorn, said the goal for each of its labels is to uniquely reflect each beer's flavor.
"We have a strong following of beer enthusiasts that like bold flavors and we have a lot of beer with character, and what we try to do is bring that character out into the labels," Haberkorn said.
"Its a challenge and it's fun to hopefully translate the unique flavor of our beer into the label."
In the case of Dark Penance, an imperial black IPA , the label was designed to reflect the dark nature of the beer.
"The woman in the label is contemplating something. She isn't looking at the viewer but off to the side, contemplating her dark past from when she was a young woman," Haberkorn said. "Her image on the label shows her as an old woman, but her shadow is herself as a young woman."
Other touches on the label echo the same theme.
"The Raven also symbolizes the dark side of the psyche, as it is in the shadows as well. All of the imagery pays homage to the darker side of IPAs, and the imperial eagle in the corner symbolizes the fact that is an imperial beer," Haberkorn added. "All this seems fitting being that this beer is released in October."
Both Founders' Haberkorn and Newburgh's Halayko agreed that while it's important for a label to reflect a beer and the brewery it comes from, it also plays a key role in an increasingly competitive marketplace: capturing a beer drinker's attention.
"We knew upfront we wanted bright, eye-catching designs," Halayko said. "These mega-beer stores now have 3,000 products on the shelves and you have to catch the consumer's eye to at least have a fighting chance of them picking you up."