North Coast’s Brother Thelonious is Back

Dear Client:

After a near eight-month hiatus, California’s North Coast Brewing is finally shipping its popular Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale again.

BACKGROUND. North Coast first started producing the 9.4% ABV ale back in 2005, with a label that included a drawing of the late jazz great Thelonious Monk, hence the name Brother Thelonious. How? North Coast reached a verbal agreement with the Monk estate that permitted them to use Monk’s name and image in the sale of the beer, so long as the brewer donated some profits to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a nonprofit jazz education program.

But the Monk estate and its lawyer informed the brewery in January 2016 that they were putting the kibosh on this agreement upon learning that North Coast was now using Monk’s image on brewery merchandise and signage.

Then in late 2017, Thelonious Monk’s son, T.S. Monk, slapped North Coast with a lawsuit claiming the brewer overstepped its verbal agreement to use his father’s image and name on Brother Thelonious.

As the litigation ensued, North Coast decided to halt production of the beer until the case was resolved. The last shipment of Brother Thelonious that North Coast sent out in 2018 was at the end of June.

We talked to North Coast’s senior vice president, Doug Moody, then and asked him what sort of impact this would have on the brewery? “It’s certainly gonna reduce volume,” he said, as Brother Thelonious, at the time, accounted for “about 10%” of North Coast’s sales. Though he noted that the beer “was never a profit center,” because of all the jazz donations and sponsorships the brew entailed. In fact, Doug said that they had actually donated upward of a million dollars to the foundation.

THE LATEST. Now, we have learned that the lawsuit has reportedly been settled and a new licensing agreement has been reached, reports SF Eater. “The lawsuit was settled out of court for undisclosed terms late last year,” per report. As for the new licensing agreement, here’s what we know:

1) North Coast will now donate a portion of the proceeds from the brew to the Monterey Jazz Festival, a festival that North Coast has been the official brewery partner for since 2006. Why the change in beneficiary? Turns out the foundation that North Coast had previously donated to is no longer called the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, after the Monk estate requested the program to discontinue its use of the Monk name, and has been renamed to the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

2) North Coast is revamping the label. “We thought it was time for a change with the other change,” North Coast’s Doug Moody told SF Gate. “The beer inside is identical but the partnership with the Monterey Jazz Festival is brand new, hence the new label.” The new artwork on the brew “presents a nod to the Belgian monks that popularized this style of ale alongside America’s own ‘monk’ – famed Jazz musician Thelonious Monk,” per company release.

3) “The new licensing agreement also allows for the sale of merchandise” featuring the reimagined beer label, reports SF Eater.
So how does North Coast feel about the new agreement? “Obviously they’re happy with it, and we’re happy with it,” Doug told SF Eater. “We’re very much glad it’s over, glad Brother Thelonious is back, and happy to continue to make really good beer and support jazz education.”

The new look Brother Thelonious is already popping up at accounts on draft and in bottles across Northern California, and will soon go nationwide, as well as internationally, per release.

When we spoke to North Coast last June, Doug told us he thought they would finish 2018 production at a little over 80,000 barrels.

ATLAS BREW WORKS OPENING SECOND SPOT IN D.C. NEAR NATIONALS PARK

Washington D.C.’s Atlas Brew Works is gearing up to open a second location in the city, reports the Washington Business Journal.

The imminent 4,500-square-foot brewery and taproom will be in a primetime spot too, sitting next to Nationals Park, the home of the city’s MLB club: the Washington Nationals.

Sitting across from the ballpark “was a big draw,” Atlas founder Justin Cox told the outlet, as the brewer already sells it beer inside the stadium and even brews a partnership beer with the ball club, dubbed the 1500 South Cap Lager.

“We already have a great relationship with the Nats, and I think being right there by the center-field gate, will be helpful to raise that awareness even more,” Justin told the Biz Journal.

The new digs will hold a modest brewhouse, capable of doing 2,000 barrels, “as well as a kitchen for an in-house food program,” per report. The forthcoming location, set to open in the spring of 2020, will feature 12 draft lines that pour “some of the brewery’s flagships as well as small-batch beers and special releases,” per report.

Atlas is on the hunt for more production space too, Justin said. The brewer is currently expanding capacity from 4,500 barrels to 8,000 barrels within its existing 18,000-square-foot Ivy City facility.

BREWERS ASSOCIATION PROMOTES FOUR OF ITS “TOP TEAM MEMBERS”

Earlier this week, the Brewers Association announced that four of its “top team members” had been promoted and given a spot on a newly-formed leadership team.

The four people that help make the BA go-round?

Paul Gatza, Nancy Johnson, Stephanie Johnson Martin, and Ryan Farrell.

Their new titles?

Paul, who has served as BA director since 2000, is now the Senior Vice President of Professional Brewing Division.
Nancy, in charge of the Event Department at the BA, was promoted to Senior Vice President of Meetings and Events.
Stephanie Johnson Martin, the operations director at the BA, earned the title of Senior Vice President of Operations.
And Ryan Farrell, who became the BA’s first HR Manager in 2014 and HR Director in 2017, has been named Vice President of Staff Development.
“Our strength and success is because of the hard work and dedication of our entire team. As long-serving and accomplished team members, Paul, Nancy, Stephanie and Ryan have proven their hard work and dedication time and time again,” said BA president and CEO Bob Pease. “I’m proud to work with this senior leadership team and extend a big congratulations on these well-deserved promotions.”

Until Monday,

Jenn, Jordan, and Harry

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” – Samuel Butler

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