Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lagunitas drops trademark action against Sierra Nevada.

Wow. Citing the "court of public opinion," Lagunitas Brewing dismissed its trademark case against Sierra Nevada less than 48 hours after filing the action. The case brings up a topic addressed previously in this blog, when Coronado Brewing sued Elysian Brewing back in 2012. The power of beer geek social media is significant and something all brewers will have to take into account as the proliferation of beer name and label trademarks gives rise to more potential for infringement actions. Read more on the decision to dismiss the Lagunitas action here

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Gluten-Free" Means Gluten-Free

Today the TTB announced that it will consider the term "gluten-free" on beer labels misleading if the beer is made with grains that contain gluten. Many beers that say "gluten-free" use barley, then break down the gluten though the use of certain enzymes. Based on new FDA regulations, the TTB is saying this no longer qualifies the brewer to market the beer as gluten-free on their label. Now the TTB will require brewers to describe their beers as "processed," "treated," or "crafted" to remove glutens. For more info check out the TTB release:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


For those of you who haven't heard, former Anheuser-Busch executive Tim Schoen has partnered with billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies to form Brew Hub, LLC. The new company plans to set up five breweries across the country at a cost of $100 million, which will then contract brew craft beers for breweries looking to expand their capacity without incurring the overhead of new brewing facilities or equipment. Unlike some other contract brewers, they'll they'll also help with branding, marketing, distribution, etc.

Brew Hub is a really interesting development in the craft brewing world. At $100 million, it has to rank as one of the biggest investments in craft beer by someone outside the craft brewing industry. If venture capitalists like Burkle are willing to put that kind of money in, it means people well outside the inner circle of craft brewing are taking note of the explosive growth in the business of beer, and the capacity for further growth.

Unlike "crafty" beers such as Blue Moon and Shock Top, the beers brewed by Brew Hub will no doubt still meet all definitions of craft beer. So give full credit to Schoen for figuring out a way to plug some serious cash into the craft beer space in a way that doesn't run afoul of the unwritten rule that you're not really "craft" if you didn't start with a loan from your parents and a souped-up home brew kit. I think Brew Hub serves as a good preview of the changes to come as "outside" money pours into the craft brewing business over the next five to ten years. Expect to see a blurring of the lines between the old, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps model and a much more sophisticated, well-financed, what-is-my-ROI business plan.

For more details on Brew Hub, check out the Wall Street Journal article or Brewbound's blog post.