With more than 5,500 breweries operating in the United States, brewers are finding it can be harder than ever to choose original, memorable names for their beers. But they’re also learning that picking a too-clever name can lead to legal issues — and two recent decisions have been handled very differently.
Take Lineup Brewing. Last year, the Brooklyn brewery released a limited-edition German pilsner called Bïeryoncé. “As a Hispanic, female run business, I am very inspired by her so I thought I’d pay homage,” Lineup owner Katarina Martinez told Pitchfork. A second batch was released Nov. 30, but this time, the beer’s name — and its black-and-pink can label, clearly modeled after the cover of Beyonce’s 2013 self-titled album — inspired a cease-and-desist letter from Beyonce’s lawyers, Pitchfork reported yesterday. “Moving forward, our German Pilsner will be called “Kätariná” paying homage to our badass female brewer and owner,” the brewery announced on its Instagram page, before adding “We’re still huge @beyonce fans.”
Cans of Bïeryoncé can still be found at New York City beer bars, so Instagram them while you can.
Things were a bit less serious last week at Modist Brewing Company in Minneapolis, where the brewery threw a party to celebrate the introduction of Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA. It’s obviously named after the nonsense toast from those medieval Bud Light commercials so beloved by National Football League announcers and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It’s also pretty obvious that Anheuser-Busch would have filed for a trademark on the phrase. (They did.)
Bud Light sent representatives to Modist’s event. But instead of handing the brewery owners a stuffy legal document, a town crier in medieval garb read a statement printed on a scroll. It thanked Modest for their tribute, but added: “However, ‘Dilly Dilly’ is the motto of our realm, so we humbly ask that you keep this to a limited-edition, one-time-only run. This is by order of the king. Disobedience shall be met with additional scrolls, then a formal warning, and finally, a private tour of the Pit of Misery.” (The “pit of misery” is the torture chamber in the series of Bud Light commercials.)
Modist put the video on its Facebook page, where it went viral — so much so that they’ve had to put up a blog post denying that they cooked up the scheme with Bud Light to generate publicity.
In exchange for dropping the name, however, Anheuser-Busch threw in a pair of Super Bowl tickets for Modist employees. Now, if only Beyoncé could do something similar for Lineup Brewing.