Press Clips: Stone Brewing Fires Back at MillerCoors; BrewDog Buys UK Cider Maker

Stone Brewing Co-Founder Calls MillerCoors’ Lawsuit Response ‘Fiction’

Several hours after MillerCoors filed its answer to Stone Brewing’s lawsuit alleging the multinational brewery’s rebrand of Keystone products infringed upon its “Stone” trademark, the San Diego craft brewery and one of its owners offered public comments about the legal filing.

Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch fired off a series of tweets Wednesday evening, including a concession that he had once referred to the Keystone brand “unsophisticated.”

“But seriously folks, NO ONE treats Keystone as unsophisticated more than @MillerCoors itself,” he wrote. “This is evident in their buffoonish ad campaigns. Your Honor, I’d like to invite ‘That Bitter Beer Face Guy’ & then the ‘Keith Stone character’ to the witness stand please.

“Keystone’s marketing has always essentially said ‘You don’t like beer w/ flavor? Then we’re the beer for you!’” he continued. “Speaking of those laughable ‘Bitter Beer Face’ ads? They started ‘em right in the earliest days when IPAs were starting their explosive trajectory. Ready, Fire…Miss!”

Stone Brewing later issued an official statement around 12:40 a.m. EST, which included reactions from Koch, Stone’s legal counsel, CEO Dominic Engels and the company’s gargoyle mascot. In his official statement, Koch called MillerCoors’ legal response a piece of “fiction.”

“MillerCoors’ gigantic law firm did what they got paid to do: present a lot of misleading allegations and package them as facts,” he said. “In coming days, we look forward to publishing each misstatement on Twitter.”

Stone’s legal counsel, Noah Hagey of BraunHagey & Borden LLP, added that “MillerCoors was unable to deflect any of Stone’s claims, all of which will now proceed to discovery and likely preliminary injunction hearing.” He added that MillerCoors would “probably regret filing” its counterclaims.

“The allegations do serious damage to Keystone’s case and basically concede there is actual confusion in the market,” he said. “And, more important, MillerCoors now admits it knew about the widespread use of Stone’s mark during Keystone’s rebranding, which takes this case into the stratosphere of economic and punitive damages for willful infringement.”

Meanwhile, Engels said the company would not be intimidated.

“Not gonna work,” he said. “It is now clear that Keystone’s abandonment of its heritage is permanent and that we’ll need to fight this one all the way. We look forward to proving our case in court.”

For more on the case, read Brewbound’s coverage here and here.

BrewDog Acquires UK Cider Company, Eyes IPO

Earlier this week, Scottish craft beer makers BrewDog announced during its annual meeting with its Equity for Punks investors that it has acquired London-based Hawkes cider. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Our additional fire power will not only enable Hawkes to expand the reach of its incredible ciders, but also provide the opportunity to really make an indelible mark on the evolution of cider in the U.K.,” BrewDog co-founder James Watt said at the meeting.

BrewDog added that Hawkes founder Simon Wright will continue to lead the 5-year-old cider brand.

In other BrewDog news, Watt reiterated that the company is planning an initial public offering in the next four years and that it had discussed its options with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Jefferies, according to the Telegraph.

“A U.K. listing is more likely but [the U.S.] is on the table,” he told the outlet, adding the company would offer about a 40 percent stake in the stock market float.

Last year, BrewDog sold a 22 percent stake to San Francisco-based private equity TSG Consumer Partners. Watt told the Telegraph that the company had only spent about 5 percent of the $265 million invested by TSG.

Finally, BrewDog told its investors that it plans to build a beer museum in Ohio, where the company’s U.S. production facility is located, the Columbus Dispatch reported. There’s no timetable for that project, however, the company’s Columbus pub is set to open this weekend and a second pub is slated to open there in the spring.

Reuben’s Brews Identifies New Space

Last August, Brewbound reported that Seattle-based Reuben’s Brews was on the hunt for a new production facility in order to consolidate its four spaces into one. At the time, Reuben’s Brews co-founder Adam Robbings said he wanted to keep his beer company within the Ballard neighborhood.

Robbings recently announced that he has finally found a space (800 Northwest 46th Street) located less than a mile from the company’s current brewery and taproom, and it plans to consolidate most of its production there.

“The building is not only less than half a mile away from our taproom and brewery (which will remain in its current location), but it is also walking distance from our home,” Robbings wrote in the brewery’s newsletter. “We are carefully renovating this historic building, and it will be up and running toward the end of this year.”

Once the renovations are complete, the new facility will allow Reuben’s Brews to increase its focus on brewing beers on three brewhouses — 5-, 15- and 30-barrel systems — and expand its oak-aged sour beer program.

Tow Yard Brewing Closes After Bankruptcy Filing

Indianapolis’ Tow Yard Brewing closed its doors last month — about two months after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The 4-year-old craft brewery had been served an eviction notice from its landlord in January, but filed for bankruptcy in order to stave off being forced out of its location. However, the brewery and its landlord agreed to a March 15 eviction date.

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