Craft Brewery Tour Features DIBOND® Decor

April/May 2020

Bell’s Brewery, Inc., headquartered in Kalamazoo, MI, USA, has been brewing craft beer since 1985. Today, this independent, family-owned business is the seventh largest craft brewery in the United States.

The Bell’s Brewery brand has gained recognition not only through its expanded offerings but also with free tours, including samples for guests ages 21 and up. Bell’s Brewery welcomes tens of thousands of guests each year to its pub and original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo as well as through tours at its main brewery in Comstock, MI, USA.

In 2019, management wanted to enhance the tour at the Comstock location through printed visual elements — including a comprehensive historical timeline created with DIBOND® aluminum composite material by 3A Composites USA. DIBOND is an aluminum composite material consisting of two pre-painted sheets of 0.012" aluminum bonded to a solid polyethylene core — a composition that makes it approximately one-half the weight of aluminum. DIBOND can be routed and returned to add dimension or roll-formed to deliver sweeping curves. DIBOND is suitable for outdoor applications and it won’t bow or oil can.

The internal graphic design team at Bell’s Brewery partnered with Agio Imaging on this project, according to Davina Logan, Agio Imaging’s director of creative services and client relations.

The Bell’s Brewery continuous 30' x 3.5' timeline — filled with historic images, company milestone information and branded graphics — was direct printed on white 3 mm DIBOND. The timeline was designed to be displayed over a 55' x 9' seamless wall covering mural printed with Bell’s Brewery graphics — both installed in a long hallway near the brewery’s sampling room.

“We recommended a combination of materials for added depth and texture,” said Logan. “The seamless wall covering media offered a canvas texture that contrasted nicely with the sleek, smooth DIBOND panels. Unlike vinyl wall coverings, this wall mural was printed on a 10-foot-wide premium canvas wall covering and installed in one seamless piece.”

Agio Imaging used seven 48" x 96" sheets of white 3 mm DIBOND that were CNC-routed and installed with butted joints to create the 30-foot-long timeline. Blind-mounting hardware secures the timeline to the wall over the mural.

Agio Imaging chose DIBOND for its rigidity and the flatness that it would offer this “long, multi-pane, continuous” timeline design, according to Logan. “Drywall finished walls are not perfectly straight due to the drywall compound used in the seams during construction. DIBOND’s rigidity allowed us to span those areas with minimal to no bow in the panels resulting in a superior product. Additionally, because DIBOND panels route so well, the exposed edges created a sleek, modern shadowed appearance.”

Added Logan: “When we direct print DIBOND, we always get great adhesion to the material. This project had a nice combination of colors in the graphics, and we were able to produce true colors in the images. DIBOND provides durability, a great white point and structural rigidity.”

While the brewery’s main objective was to create a company timeline, the project soon grew to include additional tour route signage as well as navigational signage directing visitors to the Bell’s Brewery downtown Kalamazoo location. “The information the client wanted to convey was all handled internally; but, when it came to the vision of what such a wall could look like, the material selection, interchangeable options and installation logistics, that is where we partnered and guided the project from an idea to the tour route signage you see at the facility today,” said Logan. “Material selections were based on the existing décor elements in the building as well as paired with the Bell’s Brewery brand. Connecting the two brought both the brand and the space seamlessly together.”

Tour route signage included two 23.5" x 62" signs printed on white 3 mm DIBOND with the same black flood-coating and four-color printing processes used to create the timeline. These signs were blind-mounted into a poured cement wall overlooking antique fermentation tanks used by the company to brew specialty beer batches. The 12' x 9' navigational sign was printed on a super-wide seamless canvas wall covering that was installed near the tour’s exit.

These visual elements have left a lasting impression with Bell’s Brewery tour-goers and management, according to Logan. “This facility previously did not have any tour route signage; it was just a stunning designed facility that begged for the company history to be incorporated in telling the Bell’s Brewery story,” she said. “Since the installation, we’ve received nothing but positive feedback. Local media even did a story about the project. Visit the digital edition of this issue to see the video. From an internal perspective, the guided tours now help the narrators tell the Bell’s Brewery story with visuals that visitors can relate to — keeping their tours not only much more consistent from a story-telling perspective but also much more engaging to the audience. The signage was so well-received that additional tour locations are being considered.”

Photos courtesy of Agio Imaging.