Press Clips: A-B’s Trademark Battle; Jim Koch Remembers the Early Days

Tomorrow, most Americans will commemorate the Fourth of July holiday with some barbeque, a few beers and celebratory fireworks in honor of our nation’s independence from Great Britain. But before you go reaching for a cold one, we’ve got some fireworks of our own in this week’s edition of press clips.

Anheuser-Busch InBev just acquired a small brewery, but not as a means of sneaking into the craft beer party. No, the beer giant’s acquisition of the Czech brewery, Samson, is instead an apparent legal strategy to “strengthen its claim to the trademark name of Budweiser” worldwide, according to CBS News.

Currently, the article adds, A-B InBev is in a global legal battle over the name with Budvar, a brewery based in the same town as Samson, Ceske Budejovice—otherwise known as Budweis.

“[A-B] InBev already owned the parent company of Samson, giving it the right to the name in the Czech Republic alongside Budvar,” according to CBS. “With the deal announced Wednesday, it will also take over Samson’s production, possibly bolstering its legal position when claiming the right to the name in other countries.”

Back stateside, Boston Beer’s Jim Koch, founder of the country’s largest craft brewery, sat down with the Washington Post and talked about the halcyon days of having to spread the Sam Adams gospel himself.

Most illuminating from the interview, Koch addressed the questions he had to ask himself when first starting, because even as CEO, he wore many hats in the

Jim Koch

From 2011 GABF

early days.

“When you start your own business, you’re the CEO, but you’re not the chief executive officer because there’s nobody there to execute for you,” he said. “How do you design a label? How do you negotiate a real estate lease? How do you make a sales call on a bar?”

He sounded off too on hiring practices, emphasizing the importance of people over resumes.

“Everything comes down to people,” he said. “Product’s important, but everything that happens, happens by, with, through people. So I focused, actually, a lot on talent. Not resumes, not experience, just who you were as a person.”

It’s tough not to wonder then what Koch, who wasn’t much into resumes, would have made of Brennan Gleason, the Canadian graduate student whose Résum-Ale homebrew labels double as both a beer label and his own resume, showing off his skills as a graphic designer.

If that kind of innovative thinking doesn’t land him a gig with a major design firm, there’s probably a few craft beer companies who would be interested in having him around the brewery.

Meanwhile, back in Jim Koch’s home state of Massachusetts and just a few miles away from his company’s headquarters, Waltham’s Watch City Brewing Co. has reportedly run into some tax problems.

From Waltham’s Wicked Local affiliate:

“A tax lien was filed against Watch City Brewing Co. on Nov. 21, 2013 for outstanding meal taxes of just more than $123,000, which hasn’t been satisfied, according to a Department of Revenue spokeswoman.”

The brewpub also appears to be up for sale through the Boston-based Northeast Restaurant Group, the article adds, for an asking price of $575,000.

Watch City owner, Jocelyn Hughes, posted, in part, the following message to the brewpub’s Facebook page:

“We are in dispute with the DOR due to their double taxation on out side beer sales that fall outside the meals tax[.] They do not like admit mistakes, although I have won on this exact same issue in the past.Yes, they have assessed us. They have admitted on more then [sic] one occasion that they do not care about the 35 people I employ. They are in the business of closing businesses, not to help save them.We are fighting the via litigation and continue to be compliant with a payment agreement that is in place. The agreement is high, and has tapped most of our cash and made business difficult, however, we remain in the plan.”

North of Massachusetts in Maine, some better news: Tod Mott, the former brewmaster at Portsmouth Brewery — the man responsible for creating the renowned Kate the Great imperial stout and for brewing the first Harpoon IPA — has successfully raised $65,000 on Kickstarter to help fund his own beer startup, Tributary Brewing Co.

Mott said he planned to use the funds raised on Kickstarter to help generate initial working capital and purchase ancillary equipment like a grain handling system, a cleaning system and a delivery vehicle.

The brewery is expected to open by the middle of July, and be fully operational by mid-August, according to Seacoast Online.

Tributary, the article adds, will have a tasting room, host brewery tours and offer growlers of 32 or 64-ounces to take home.

Lastly, down in Alabama, a new Huntsville-based biotech company has launched to supply craft brewers in the Southeast with high-quality yeast.

“Leavendary, founded by entrepreneur Peyton McNully, is located a Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology,” according to AL.com. “It’s the first yeast propagation service in the Southeast, McNully says, and it offers customized yeast to craft brewers.”

Additionally, the company offers “quality testing at microscopic and molecular levels for individual clients.”

Bonus clip: For those brewers in need of a laugh heading into the busy holiday weekend, here’s a satirical beer listicle from The Onion’s Clickhole humor website. Among some of the funnier hypothetical beers that you just HAVE to try this summer is Undrinkable Apricot Monstrosity and The Disease.