ROSEVILLE, MN — Northern Brewer was sent a cease and desist letter yesterday afternoon from an attorney representing Bell’s Brewery over the name of one of their home brew kits, “Three Hearted Ale.”
Bell’s Brewery, which makes a year round offering by the name “Two Hearted Ale,” is required by law to defend their trademark.
“We certainly aren’t against home brewers or Northern Brewer, in fact I’m flattered.” said Larry Bell, Founder of Bell’s Brewery. “It’s merely a matter of them not being able to infringe on our trademark.”
Michael Dawson, the Creative Director for Northern Brewer said that they don’t necessarily market their home brew kit as a “clone” but rather as homage to a beer he personally enjoys.
Northern Brewer also has other home-brew kits done in similar fashion. They produce ‘Sierra Madre Pale Ale’ and ‘Phat Tyre Ale’ kits and as Dawson explains they are named to give consumers an idea as to what the recipes are modeled after.
“The kits are very much informed by the craft beer world,” said Dawson. “A lot of the customers, who start homebrewing, come in with something specific in mind that they want to brew.”
This phenomenon is not uncommon in the home-brewing world. A simple google search with the words “home brew clone kits,” will lead you to Midwest Homebrewing Supplies, which sells clone kits under the exact same names as commercially produced beers.
Northern Brewer said they plan to change the name of the kit so as not to infringe on any copyright laws.
“The recipe will stay the same, but we will market it under a different name,” said Dawson.
Northern Brewer must change the name by early April, but is not expecting to incur much of a loss from having to re-brand the packaging.
According to Dawson, Northern Brewer has yet to be cited in 18 years of being in business and thinks this is the first instance where a brewery has requested that a home brew supply company change the name of one of their products since home brewing was made legal during the Carter administration.