Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine district has long had a rich beer-brewing history, and of late, there has been a local renaissance in the culinary craft, including the latest craft beer cafe, HalfCut, whose brand identity was developed by Neltner Small Batch.
The team took this hearty history and used it as the key element in developing the project’s branding, including naming the beerhouse. “Halfcut is a term from the 1920s that means ‘slightly buzzed’ but we didn’t want the brand just to be about drinking, but also education and craftsmanship from earth to glass, exploration and finding ‘what’s over the mountain,’” says creative director Keith Neltner.
That is why when it came to creating a mural for the interior of the bar, the team devised something that not only would capture customers’ attentions but also tell them a story while they sip their stouts. It depicts the journey of creating beer, from the hops farm to the brewer on to the consumer. “HalfCut is intended to have an urban edge but also be a comfortable place for beer drinkers to hang out. We wanted something unique that embraced the thriving culture and also extended the HalfCut story,” Neltner explains from his rural studio in Camp Springs, KY.
Aesthetically, the mural features a weathered look, with raw brick intentionally showing through the layers of paint. “These elements help reflect a sense of history,” Neltner says. “I always want my work to feel likes it been around for a long time, beat up and worn, whether that’s in a rural or urban backdrop.”
They further extended that ambiance through the entire beerhouse, designing everything from its exterior signage to print collateral and limited-edition posters down to its growlers and glassware.
Neltner says that the majority of other bars and restaurants in Over-the-Rhine all look alike, with exposed brick walls, wood floors, Edison light bulbs. “As the area grows, we felt it was important to use a bold expression of color and graphics to stand out,” he explains of their liberal use of yellow in the design. “We hoped to keep the spirit of the architecture with wood and brick in the space but overlay a black and yellow color palette to stand out. We’re super excited with the results.”
Project: HalfCut Branding
Design Firm: Neltner Small Batch, Camp Springs, KY
Creative Team: Keith Neltner, illustrator/creative director/painter; Stacey Vallerie, lead artist; Tom Post, Kyle Ebersole, Rick Neltner, Andi Bussard, painting assistance; Jeff Chambers, writer
Additional Resources: Upcoming Online Learning Opportunities