Big brewing company versus small craft label is a well-known story by now. Even craft brewery versus craft brewery is getting played out. But small craft brewery versus a tag team of the largest brewing company in the world, Maker’s Mark, and the small-business-loving city of Portland, Oregon? That’s something we haven’t heard before.
On November 8, news started to circulate that Portland was trying to take a trademarked logo owned by Old Town Brewing Company so the city could license it to AB InBev. Now, after repeated statements from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that Old Town’s logo is protected, Portland is attempting to sue Old Town into submission.
So much for Portland as Beervana, the craft beer capital of the world.
Beer writer Jeff Alworth laid out the story in explicit detail on his Beervana blog. In short, it goes like this: In 2012, Old Town’s Adam Milne trademarked the image of a leaping stag that’s well known around Portland. This year, the trademark became incontestable since it’s been active for five years — meaning Old Town’s stag belongs to the company in pretty much all things alcohol.
But two-and-a-half years ago, Portland applied to use the leaping stag for beer and other alcohol-related products. The USPTO rejected it. When Milne talked to the city to say that it can use the stag for non-alcohol products, Portland officials said no, claiming to need it for alcohol because of licensing deals in the works with Maker’s Mark and AB InBev. AB InBev had previously tried to use the stag leaping over Oregon before, but was forced to stop using it because of Old Town’s trademark.
Portland applied twice more, racking up considerable legal fees for Old Town. Milne told Alworth that the city said it “would spend whatever it takes” for the logo. And, as Alworth puts it, it’s hard to argue that this is anything but an “if you can’t beat ‘em in court, beat ‘em with your bank account” situation.
I love hearing a thrilling new take on a familiar story, but this falls into the lines of absurdity. Lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits should be used to right wrongs, not to force someone with fewer resources to act against their own interests.
Black Friday, but for beer
Black Friday is in the top five of the worst things about American capitalism. It combines a day of giving thanks and drinking too much with family with one dedicated to getting the best deals. But in Milwaukee, there’s an exception: Black Beer Friday.
Black Friday in Milwaukee has turned into a beer lover’s day, USA Today reports. Eleven craft breweries and brewpubs do special releases the day after Thanksgiving, and thousands of people line up for a taste and a bottle to take home. What started as something unique to Lakefront Brewery’s Imperial Stout Black Friday beer release has become something for a community of brewers and beer drinkers to celebrate.
“They stand in the cold, fingers numb around a bottle of beer,” Kathy Flanagan writes while describing the scene. “They might or might not have slept in the car. For sure, they are in line and drinking before the sun made an appearance.”
Depending on your thoughts about special-release beers and your thoughts about Black Friday sales, this could sound like either a nightmare or a heavenly dream. And if you’re a beer lover outside Milwaukee, it probably sounds like something your town needs. Maybe it’s just me, but standing in line for a special-release beer and a full pint with your shopping experience is way better than braving the crowds at Macy’s.
Yes, that’s actually Andre the Giant holding a beer
Andre the Giant fans are very familiar with the image of the man himself holding a beer and making it look like a miniature toy beer. If you’re not, here it is. Finally, Snopes has officially gotten to the bottom of it and determined that it’s real.
The photo was originally published in Sports Illustrated in 1981. For decades, people have argued that it was just a prop, and there’s no way that a hand could actually be that large. Well, those people are wrong. A 12-ounce beer was chosen for the explicit reason that everyone knew the size of a can of beer.
Snopes includes this telling block quote:
“While the iconic image might seem obvious now — and carries significance for Roussimoff outside of the realm of the posed picture — the beer was not the first thing the wrestler held. Once the group arrived at the photo shoot, the photographer Stephen Green-Armytage struggled to find an object that would to properly show off Roussimoff’s proportions. ‘Obviously we chose an item whose size is familiar to the magazine’s readers,’ he told me. ‘I also photographed André with the restaurant manager, and although the giant towered over him, the reader would not know if he was a particularly small man or of normal size.’ Another photo with the wrestler posing with Central Park horse also proved unsatisfying — ‘one wouldn’t know if it was a pony or a Clydesdale.’ So when Todd suggested the beer-centric staging, Green-Armytage put aside his worry that the photo would be mistaken for an ad and snapped away. After all, while everyone’s hands are different, a 12-ounce beer, he noted, is always the same size.”
Case solved. Thanks, Snopes.