Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A bit of a rant

I hesitate to post his but since I am generally a pretty easy going guy. As Todd and I run the brewery we tend to be helpful to our fellow brewers. In business, as you may guess, the competition can be pretty fierce. We have always looked at our Craft Brewing business to be somewhat different - a fraternal organization so to speak. When other brewers have had questions we answer them genuinely and with candor. Sometimes it isn't the answer that is being sought but it is at least the truth as we see it or have experienced it. We strive to help out our fellow brewers be it through co-op buying, producing beer, or just simple sharing of information. The COOL thing about this is generally speaking all brewers do the same thing. We share the camaraderie of being part of a small group of guys and gals that have a deep passion for making great beer in our locally owned and operated brewery. I have liked to think we have a strong ethical honor bound thread that follows all of us in our business dealings. We also like to do this because..

Its fun.

Now - you are asking yourself - What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

You may have noticed that I have posted a picture of one of our products on right side of our blog - Pioneer Pale Ale. As most of you are aware The Sand Creek Brewing Company purchased the Pioneer Brewing Company back in 2004. This included the Pioneer Brand and all of its products. Back in June of this year it came to our attention that a small start up brewery was going to name one of their products "Pioneer Pale Ale". I sent them a rather nice note congratulating them on their start up brewery and politely asked them to remove the references to the Pioneer Pale Ale off of their website since it was a beer that is owned by the Sand Creek Brewing Company.

They responded with an apology, that they would remove the name from the web site and rework the name of their beer. Cool -just what I think a bunch of brewers would do. After all, we are a close-knit fraternal organization - right?


Fast forward to the first week in October. It comes to our attention that the previously still unnamed brewery STILL is using the Pioneer Pale Ale name and has added the TM mark to the name itself. I sent them another note and this time I get back the response:
I was not aware of any ownership of the trademark Pioneer Pale Ale. Would you please forward me any evidence asserting ownership of the name?

I don't get it. This is the same brewery that came to us about contract brewing their beer to get them off the ground. This is the same brewery that learned our entire history when they visited us last winter. This is the same brewery who said they would rectify the matter. Wow just..wow.

As a member of a very select and unique group of business owners, I wouldn't think one brewery would do that to another.

Maybe we are a bit to altruistic in our dealings. I sure hope not since it is what makes this micro-brewing business we all love so great. I got into this business after 14 years of working in corporate USA. I saw the good and I saw the bad. I saw in the craft brewing industry something better. We as a small industry grow together and need each other. As more small brewers come into the business more and more people find that craft brewed beers are better, more interesting and the back stories on the places where they are made are pretty darn interesting. I would hate to see a small start up brewery's back story darkened when each and EVERY craft brewery is important to us all.


I feel better now -


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