Press Clips: More Craft Acquisitions and Trademark Disputes


Full Sail Employees Vote to Sell

The 78 current and former employee owners of Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing have voted “overwhelmingly” to sell a controlling interest of the company to Encore Consumer Capital, a San Francisco private equity firm, a small group of local investors. New of a potential acquisition spread earlier this month. “They are really going to help us become a better partner to our distributors and retailers,” Irene Firmat, Full Sail CEO, recently told Brewbound. “Our employees got to vote thoughtfully and with information.” Although an employee vote was not required to transfer ownership, 98 percent of the company voted in favor of the sale after reviewing what Firmat said were 150 pages of information detailing the sale. “Our employees got to vote thoughtfully,” she said. The transaction is expected to close this month. Specific financial information was not disclosed, however Firmat told Brewbound that once in control of the company, Encore will look to establish a “broad-based” stock option plan for all employees. Firmat and co-founder Jamie Emmerson have agreed to stay with the company for one year to help facilitate the transition.

Yet Another Trademark Dispute

Bell’s Brewery has filed a federal action against a small brewery in North Carolina called Innovation Brewing over the use of its name and the potential confusion it could cause in the marketplace, according to a report from the Citizen-Times. Bell’s contends that the name Innovation Brewing could reasonably cause consumer confusion between the two brands because of an unregistered advertising slogan it’s been using for decades, “bottling innovation since 1985.” Additionally, part of the complaint suggests that Bell’s slogan, “inspired brewing,” could be confused with Innovation Brewing’s name. “We didn’t see any confusion,” Nicole Dexter, Innovation co-founder, told the website. “We were pretty confident it could be worked out.”

In a statement, Laura Bell, vice president of Bell’s, said she’d personally reached out to Innovation to try to settle the matter in February of last year. “Our efforts were rebuffed and Innovation Brewing choose (sic) to pursue this in the legal system,” she wrote to Brewbound in an email. Bell said the company is not asking Innovation Brewing to change its name or logo, but rather to withdraw a federal trademark application. “Our concern is with their United States trademark application and potential impact on our brand, which we have spent 30 years building.”

Two Dozen Breweries Call for Action on Climate Change

Two dozen breweries from around the country have joined a growing chorus of businesses calling for action on climate change. The list of beer companies, large and small, includes top 50 players like New Belgium, Deschutes, and Allagash, all of which signed the Climate Declaration, an online petition asking policymakers to tackle the issue of climate change head on. Launched in 2013 by Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy group, and its business network, the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), the initiative calls on U.S. lawmakers to implement a national strategy to combat climate change. Specifically, the breweries have signed a Brewery Climate Declaration, a companion to the larger call that highlights risks specific particular to their industry. “We believe that a strong economy and a stable climate go hand in hand,” said Jenn Vervier, director of strategy and sustainability at New Belgium, in a news release. “We’ve committed to making our business sustainable, and it’s more important than ever that businesses engage with policymakers to support forward-thinking climate and energy policies.” Some of the ways breweries are reining in their own impact on the environment include measuring greenhouse gas emissions, using renewable energy, capturing methane, cutting transportation by lightening loads by canning rather than bottling, and becoming LEED Certified.

The full list of breweries that have signed on includes:

  • Aeronaut Brewing (MA)
  • The Alchemist (VT)
  • Allagash (ME)
  • Aspen Brewing (CO)
  • Brewery Vivant (MI)
  • Buoy Beer (OR)
  • Chuckanut Brewery (WA)
  • Deschutes Brewery (OR)
  • Fort George Brewery (OR)
  • Fremont Brewing (WA)
  • Georgetown Brewing (WA)
  • Diageo — Guinness (Ireland)
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery (OR)
  • New Belgium Brewing (CO)
  • Ninkasi Brewing (OR)
  • Odell Brewing (CO)
  • Craft Brew Alliance — Redhook Brewery (WA, NH), Widmer Brothers Brewing (OR), Kona Brewing (HI)
  • Rockford Brewing (MI)
  • Smuttynose Brewing (NH)
  • Snake River Brewing (WY)
  • Standing Stone Brewing (OR)
  • Wet Dog Café & Brewery (OR)

Beer Industry Trade Groups Ask eBay to Curb Stolen Keg Sales

The Brewers Association, the Beer Institute, and MicroStar Logistics are asking online auctioneer eBay to restrict the sale of kegs without proof of sale. A letter mailed on March 6 to the online retail giant suggests that “by allowing unauthorized individuals to sell [kegs] using your service,” eBay is “facilitating the sale of stolen kegs.” As Brewbound reported in September, keg loss actually costs BA members between $0.46 and $1.37 per barrel of annual keg production, depending on a variety of factors. Industry-wide, keg theft costs the entire beer industry millions of dollars annually. The letter also includes an invitation to collaborate to prevent the sale of stolen kegs.