‘Tis the season for the Holiday Ale Festival in Portland, where dark craft ales abound under the Pioneer Courthouse Square tent. To align with the seasonal spirit, I’ve visited dozens of Oregon brewery sites and reviewed the five best designs.
1. BridgePort Brewing
The BridgePort Brewing site entices viewers with a 3D panorama of Portland landmarks. Move your cursor to the left or right to see the background animate via parallax scrolling. Navigate the site by finding the links positioned within the cityscape, or if you don’t feel like messing around, use the top navigation bar.
Flash sites sometimes punish you with a cumbersome load time, but bridgeportbrew.com loaded in a matter of seconds for me. I was worried at first to see “radio” controls in the bottom left. Discovering the music plays only on user interaction, I breathed a sigh of relief.
BridgePort has surrendered some SEO-benefits by choosing to develop their site in Flash; however, the site delivers a great design and interactive experience.
2. Widmer Brothers Brewing
Widmer also chose to develop their site on the Flash platform. My favorite part is the home page carousel animation. Select the left or right arrow to move your beer of choice to the forefront. Choose among Widmer Hefeweizen, Drifter Pale Ale, Drop Top Amber Ale, and Broken Halo IPA. The visual treatment of the labels and the background illustrates how well Widmer has branded each of their beers.
The site has some room for improvement. It is optimized for an 800 x 600 screen resolution and could be redesigned to take full advantage of modern screen sizes. The overlapping background shapes on the text-heavy pages also feel a bit odd and could be readdressed with an update.
Overall, Widmer effectively promotes their top beers with front-and-center positioning and inviting user interaction.
3. Laurelwood Public House & Brewery
Laurelwood’s site immediately attracts attention with the excellent beer macro shot as the background. The prominently displayed tagline, “The place where friends and family meet” appears on every page. Click the arrows in jQuery-enabled main feature to access other news items.
Based upon the WordPress platform, Laurelwoodbrewpub.com features a regularly-updated blog and videos. This content suggests the owners are invested in keeping their site fresh and interesting. The only element that might need a revision is the paper background texture, which doesn’t feel quite polished.
Laurewood delivers an above-average brewery site with compelling background imagery and consistent blog posts.
4. Lompoc Brewing
Lompoc’s sites break the typical web design mold and are reminiscent of print work. No animation distracts from the images and text.
On each page, the images and headline type are very large, establishing a clear hierarchy. The subject featured in the photo demands your attention. The two columns of text below, separated by a wide margin, feel almost boring compared to the richness of the photo above. The Brewers page includes some lovely illustrations of the brewers.
Just one revision suggestion — the main nav could be altered to match the sophistication of the rest of the site.
Compared to other brewing sites, Lompoc’s online identity provides a refreshing visual break and effectively promotes their business.
5. Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom
Double Mountain incorporates a simple layout and places high prominence on their logo. No animation is used on the site; instead, the text and images are the focus.
The home page photo of the tap room crowd makes one wonder — am I missing out on some brews that these throngs of people are keen to?
The site is very text-heavy, and the light orange color against black hinders readability. Breaking up the text and altering the color would make the content more digestible.
Double Mountain’s no-frills layout and logo emphasis help create a strong branding experience for site visitors.
Oregon’s best brewery sites illustrate an array of design and development executions. Whether the companies have invested in captivating animations, regular news releases, or beautiful imagery, each site possesses its own strengths. Together, they reflect the diversity of the Oregon brewing community.