Why We Love It

We love this map because it brings a bold aesthetic to otherwise basic point data. It was designed as a large wall hanging (17 ft wide!) for a brewery tasting room. Here we see an innovative use of the Dorling cartogram approach, a technique for mapping thematic data. It allows the data to be summed up by country and mapped in an eye-catching, abstract way with beautiful symbology.

Why It Works

Bottle tops are scaled as proportional symbols to show the number of breweries per country. This cartogram works because it quickly gives us a sense of the major brewing nations organized by geographical areas and positioned to mimic a world map. Minimal text provides labels and numbers. The bottle tops appear to be strewn across a table, yet are carefully illuminated with a light source from the top left.

Important Steps

Locations of breweries, as addresses, were geocoded to add latitude and longitude which could then be mapped.

A proportional symbol map was made; symbols were converted to features and repositioned with a little manual editing.

The bottle top symbols are, in fact, a number of layers of symbols (bottle top, flag, text). Several styles were constructed and the Match to Style renderer used to symbolize countries.

Three layers of actual locations were symbolized with different sizes of dots and transparencies to build up the clusters on the hemisphere maps.

The background table top is a large graphic added to the layout.



The data was used with permission from beerme.com. The addresses were downloaded as a text file and geocoded to add latitude and longitude that could then be mapped. The country attribute was used to calculate totals for the cartogram symbol sizing.


The data was run through the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service to add latitude and longitude and totals per country were summed. The coordinates and totals became the mappable information.


It took about two hours to download and convert the addresses. This includes checking and verifying accuracy. The cartogram took about three hours to build, including manual editing of symbol placement. The symbols took the most time, though many are built from the same primitives and can be applied to the map using data-driven symbolization.

Smallest Symbol


Experiment to make sure the smallest symbol can be seen and the largest does not take over the map. Scaling isn’t linear but the overall effect is still impactful.

Processing Data


Processing data into different forms gives you flexibility to map it in different ways. Locations are used here in the inset rather than the main map. Often the interesting story is revealed by processing data this way.

Artistic Expression


The client for this map had very specific requirements. Stretching your artistic expression is part of the fun of making highly abstract wall maps that are designed to provoke exploration and conversation.

Print isn't dead


Print isn’t dead! Maps don’t have to be on the web. As art, they look great on a wall.

Map Author

Ken Field

Ken Field

@kennethfield | LinkedIn

Professional cartonerd, amateur drummer and snowboarder. Lifetime encourager of cartographic quality not quantity. Map with the times while building on the past.

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