Bell’s Issues Cease and Desist Letter

March 24, 2011

Bell’s Issues Cease and Desist Letter

Dear Client:

Bell’s Brewery sent a cease and desist letter to Northern Brewer regarding their use of Two Hearted in a homebrew kit. According to a statement posted yesterday, the issuance was “sent out at a time when Bell’s is having to defend its trademarks (including Two Hearted) on several fronts,” wrote Larry on the brewery’s home page. “Upon learning of Three Hearted we moved to defend an asset that we own and have owned for many years.” The crux, it seemed, was that Bell’s was never contacted for permission to use the name of their hoppy American strong ale.

North American Brewer seemed to be willing to be rename the clone homebrew kit, at least according to Bell’s post.

CICERONE CERT GAINING GROUND

More and more brewers, distributors, and retailers are getting their people certified in Cicerone programs, say Sam Merritt of the Civilization of Beer program and Ray Daniel of the bigger Cicerone establishment at a CBC distributor session, which has now passed some 200 people. That may not seem like a lot, but especially considering the significant investment to take the involved test – around $400 for the middle level – it’s gaining traction, especially with distributors who want their guys to be knowledgeable about beer both for quality control and for a smarter retailer, consumer, and suppliers who look for such benchmarks. We’ve spoken to about a half dozen distributors who are or are planning to get more beer training for their sales people. Sam Merritt quoted Brooklyn’s Steve Hindy to that end, saying, “An educated beer seller is a better beer seller.” And then one of his own: “better beer is beer that makes you more money.” There’s lots more coverage of the CBC coming, so stay tuned… Opening session just started.

COLORADO: COMMITTEE TO VOTE TODAY ON FULL STRENGTH BEER IN GROCERY AND C-STORES

It comes down to this. Similar proposals have failed to pass in recent years, but could it be different this time around? Colorado House Commerce and Business Committee will vote today on whether full-strength beer — much of it craft beer — can be sold at grocery and convenience stores. It is facing opposition from many local breweries and liquor stores, who say the bill would put them out of business. A number of naysayers gathered at Bristol Brewing Co last night protesting the idea. The owner Mike Bristol, told local papers that “chain stores aren’t set up to handle a variety of local beers like we have in Colorado.” He worries that they will “bring in national brands,” causing selection to go down. At the same time, he believes chain grocery stores will force many small liquor stores to close, leaving local craft breweries with nowhere to go.

But of course there is another side to the issue. Lawmaker Larry Liston, who sponsored HB 1284, calls it the “ultimate free market bill,” claiming his bill “doesn’t force anyone out of business.” He claims grocery and c-stores will want to sell Colorado craft beers.

We will find out soon enough if the bill passes committee. Stay tuned…

VON SCHEIDT BREWING WELCOMES THE SMALL BREWER TAX RELIEF ACT AND THE COMPETITION IT WOULD BRING

“It would reduce my tax by about half,” said Pat Scheidt, owner and brewmaster of Von Scheidt Brewing Company in TwinFalls regarding the small brewer tax relief act. As you know, the proposed bill would help small brewers like Pat invest in their business by reducing current excise tax rates. Pat, who began the brewery in December of 2009 and currently produces less than 100 barrels a year, says they are eager to expand but “doing it dollar by dollar,” reports to MagicValley.com.

CRAFT BREWERS DONATE LARGELY TO DEMOCRATS

Not too surprising, but craft brewers have been major political donors in recent years, reports OpenSecrets Blog, and while the large brewers give fairly evenly, craft brewers are more loyal to democrats. When sifting through the Center for Responsive Politics, the blog found that employees and individuals associated with Boston Beer contributed nearly $32,000 to federal-level political candidates and committees during the 2010 election cycle. And it all went to democrats. Individuals associated with New Belgium brewery contributed about $12,000, about 98% of its total, to democratic interests.

However, BA coo Bob Pease told the blog that the association has no plans to create a PAC. Why? One because “they don’t feel challenged by the major producers, and two, because “they prefer to send the members of their group to Washington to meet with lawmakers in person.”

“‘The Brewers Association has numbers,'” Bob says. “‘While we don’t have the fiscal resources that the large suppliers have … we have the ability to bring small brewery owners, Main Street businesses to Washington, D.C.'”

BEER BRIEFS:

THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION has named Deb Carey, New Glarus Brewing Co. president, the Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year for 2011. Deb told BBD earlier this year that they were up almost 17% in 2010 at 92,000 barrels; this year they’re up 20%. They go deep, not long; no new markets planned.

NORTH AMERICAN BREWERIES DEBUTED A NEW TECHIE IPAD-CENRIC TOOL LAST FRIDAY that computes, first and foremost for the company’s “ale bastard” sales guys, on-premise profitability against a suite of competitors’ taps. The program has capacity to compute foam, size and price for glassware, and size, volume, frequency and price for kegs, for ultimate profitability report outputs. Here’s a screenshot.

Until tomorrow, Jenn

“Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings.”
-Evan Essar

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