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Snoqualmie Falls beer
Snoqualmie Falls Brewing’s new American Pale Ale. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Take a look at the selections in the beer aisle at your local grocery store, and you’re sure to notice there’s a ever-increasing number of brands vying for your attention. So at least one Northwest brewer is turning to technology embedded in its label to try to gain an advantage.

Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, a 20-year-old brewer out of Snoqualmie, Wash., is up against stiff competition in the Seattle-area’s flourishing craft beer market. So with the help of The Medium, an art and design studio in nearby North Bend, Snoqualmie Falls is using augmented reality technology on the outside of its bottles to sell what’s inside.

The purple labels on the new 22-ounce bottles of Sno Falls American Pale Ale look like any other beer label, with a simple image of a waterfall. But instructions printed on the side encourage beer drinkers to “watch this label come to life!”

AR beer label
Directions for activating the AR technology on a bottle of Snoqualmie Falls beer. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

With the use of a free mobile app called Layar, users can scan the label and then witness the printed picture turn to “video” in AR — “Snoqualmie Falls in its full glory!” the label says. This includes salmon jumping, a brewer going over the falls in a barrel and a murder of crows flying past.

Snoqualmie brewery manager Dave Eiffert told GeekWire that the novel technique is essential to entice people to try the beer.

“When you’re staring at crowded shelves full of great offerings, you can’t taste the beer like you can in a pub, so the design is really all you have to attract that hand toward the bottle neck,” Eiffert said. “Once they try it, we know they’ll be hooked, because those Mosaic hops lend wonderful flavors and aromas. We’re getting more and more adventurous in this regard, with ways to differentiate the beers.”

There’s obviously more to the process than what goes into a flat 2D image. Josh Tuininga, creative director at The Medium, said that the entire interactive experience has to be taken into account, including graphic design, video, animation, and sound. He called it very collaborative process with Snoqualmie Falls.

“The Medium has worked with the brewery for years creating new fun label design ideas and we had the idea to do an augmented reality label,” Tuininga said. “After presenting the concept to the brewery we began design with Snoqualmie Falls as the theme. For the AR, we did some testing to make sure the technology would work on a bottle surface. After testing and design approvals, we started the fun part — animation. We threw the brewmaster plunging over the falls in a barrel, salmon trying to swim up the waterfall and added other fun visuals and sound for the interactive AR experience.”

Right now, the beer is available at the brewery and a number of Eastside retailers, such as Snoqualmie Safeway, Crescent Market at Snoqualmie Casino, Pourhouse in North Bend, IGA in Snoqualmie, the North Bend and Snoqualmie 76s, Family Grocer in Fall City, and the Snoqualmie Market, as well as assorted bottle shops.

Distribution should be more widespread in Washington in the coming weeks.

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