Typeface Review

Birra Stout

Reviewed by Karsten Luecke on April 15, 2009

Given my preference for bold typefaces, it may not come as a surprise that my favorite of 2008 is Joshua Darden’s Birra Stout.

Of course it is not its boldness alone. It is the humor in it, the way Birra Stout offers a variety of solutions for normally equivalent details: more than just one kind of ball terminal, more than one kind of serif (those of ‘C’ and ‘S’ even being vaguely reminiscent of Fleischmann), not to mention the onesidedly thin ‘O’ and ‘R’, the Venetian ‘e’, or the lively numerals. Usually, when these accidents happen, they need to go. Here, they are happily united in a single, coherent typeface. Birra Stout is a bit of everything, a pretty, many-sided fellow.

What I miss terribly, though, are small caps and oldstyle figures. No way yet to use Birra for body text!

Karsten Lücke is a type designer and typographer based in Germany. He studied communication design and worked at Steidl Publishers in Goettingen from 2004 to 2005. Since then, he has focused on type design. His Litteratra was selected for Typographica’s “Typefaces of 2005” and Tiptoe was selected in 2006.


  1. Jeff Peppers says:

    I love Darden’s type, but Birra Stout kind of struck me as a ‘just-for-fun’ that didn’t come close to the rest of his work. As a display face it is still limited in application due to its overly unique style.

    I suppose there are some projects where it is a good fit, but this certainly wouldn’t be a choice of mine.
    (the convex angles on the $ and bottom loops of the J don’t sit too well with me)

  2. I don’t see the problem with a face with a strong personality, and definitely there is nothing wrong with a font that is ‘just-for-fun’. It does have other uses than most of the other type families displayed here, true, but this is great nonetheless.

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