Rainier reaches into the past for new Jubilee Can

Rainier reaches into the past for new Jubilee Can
The Rainier Jubilee Can, shown at the Rainier R Crawl, October 22nd 2013. (Joshua Lewis / KOMO News)

Bar patrons expecting a white can with a red "R" got a surprise last week, when Rainier Beer debuted the first seasonal "Jubilee Can" in decades. But why? The arrestingly blue can is, say the creative forces behind it, a throwback to earlier days for the brand, and a celebration of its legacy. 

Rainier Beer, which is now owned by Pabst Brewing and was brewed in Seattle until the late 1990s, has origins dating back to 1884. But it's the brand's look and feel from the 1960s that Rainier's creative team tried to capture for the new 16-ounce Jubilee Can.

"It's been 50 years since the last Jubilee Can," explains Director of Regional Brands Andy Gurjian, who explained that the company wanted to pay homage to the beer's storied past by re-conceiving some of the old design elements that were popular at the time.

From 1952 until 1963, says Gurjian, the company released "different seasonal, holiday-themed cans," which are now very rare, and popular with collectors and enthusiasts. And it's those collectors, who have spent their lives tracking down the original cans and other memorabilia, who kept the design team going.

"Heritage is everything...it's actually a little scary having those guys watching what we're doing," noted Creative Director K.C. Blinn, "but when the cans came out...they were like, 'You guys did a pretty good job.'"

Design elements of the 2013 Jubilee Can include slogans, colors, and typography borrowed from the decades-old versions. Blinn says the team wanted everything to look "as close as possibly to the original Jubilee Can," which was created by legendary design house Landor and Associates. 

"We're doing what's right for the brand, but it's also just doing what's right for everybody who loves it."

"I think the thing that's really important to us is to maintain the integrity of the brand," Gurjian explained, "It's kind of a challenge...but it's commemorating a tradition."

It's been a big week for Rainier Beer in Seattle; tomorrow, a recreation of the classic red "R" will be placed atop the Rainier Brewery Building. The brewery will be hosting a party to celebrate the lighting of the "R," which will feature a beer garden whose proceeds go to MOHAI. 

And for those Rainier fans who may not love the blue hue, Gurjian and Blinn say not to worry; the regular Rainier cans will be back after the holiday season, and in the next several years, more Jubilee Cans (in various traditional shades) will be debuted, as well. 

For more photos of last night's R Crawl, check out our gallery.