What’s In a Name?

In a lead-up post on Troy’s site relating to this Saturday’s Golden Tap Awards and Beer Festival at beerbistro in Toronto – more about that at the end of this post – Alan has raised the question of whether or not names really matter when beers are not sold in the same market. The specific beers he cites are Hoptical Illusion, by both New York’s Blue Point Brewing and Barrie, Ontario’s Flying Monkeys Brewing – the former ahead of the latter – and #9, brewed most famously by Vermont’s Magic Hat and more recently by the not-quite-officially-open Duggan’s Brewery.

There are other brand and brewery name similarities in today’s well-populated beer world, both cross and intra-border, and so we must wonder how important they may be. It’s fairly well-known, of course, that Russian River and Avery settled their same name issues by crating a Collaboration Not Litigation Ale, while Canada’s opposite coast Storm Brewing companies have managed to thus far co-exist quite happily.

But what of more litigious possibilities? Is it a matter of size or respect? Should Flying Monkeys offer a nod to Blue Point, even if they were entirely unaware of the latter’s beer when they named their own? Will Magic Hat ultimately launch action against Michael Duggan, especially considering the larger brewery’s proximity to the Canadian border? And should any of us, as beer consumers, care?

I don’t have the answer, but it’s certainly a matter worthy of consideration.

For interested readers in the Toronto area, the Golden taps will be handed out at 8:00 on Saturday, August 29, as part of an Ontario brewers-only beer fest held at beerbistro, 18 King Street West in the heart of downtown. Admission is free and it all gets started at 4:00. More details are available here.

2 Replies to “What’s In a Name?”

  1. I don’t think Magic Hat would do to well trying to claim ownership of “#9”. That said, I have not seen any of the promotional material for it either – What tap handle is currently used? If Duggan starts using a tap handle that’s nearly identical to theirs, perhaps they might have a case.

    What about famous people or mythology? Does the first person to reference a specific saint on their label now have sole rights to that name? Rasputin? Catherine the Great in various forms?

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