OT: Battle of the Breweries

Submitted by Hotel Putingrad on January 19th, 2018 at 5:37 PM
Founders tops Bell's as largest MI brewery http://on.freep.com/2EUA1mz I prefer Odd Side over both, but DISCUSS! N.B...this may also serve as the official Friday night drinking thread for those so inclined.



January 19th, 2018 at 6:16 PM ^

This was a funny line to me: "We're not really into giving up our ideals to chase volume." 

Uhhhh, sure Larry.  They're so focused on their ideals and not worried about volume that they contested a trademark submitted by a tiny craft brewer in NC on absurd grounds merely because they're a big bully chasing volume.


January 19th, 2018 at 6:32 PM ^

He is way, way worse in person. Starting during my undergrad days in the early 90s, I met him several times in Kalamazoo, and then every few years in the late 90s and 2000s for professional stuff. He is just a really disagreeable guy. It actually ended up turning me off Bells after a while; that, and the fact that Oberon (I first knew it as Solsun) sucks now... 


January 19th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

Solsun had "Sol" in the name!  Bell's named their beer poorly. It's not difficult to see how that could be confused. That's their fault.  It was a slam dunk contest for Sol.

Bell's contested Innovation Brewing's name because they claimed it's close to their unregistered slogan Inspired Brewing.  "Inspired" does not equal or even come close to "Innovation." And Bell's knew this.  They were just being a bully by threatening an expensive process (that they lost, of course) to try to screw over a small brewery.


January 19th, 2018 at 7:18 PM ^

Forgive me if I'm relatively uninformed, but based on what I read about that case Bell's simply wanted to prevent the smaller brewery from copyrighting a name rather than banning them from using it. That seems entirely innocuous to me. Is this not accurate? I just don't see the problem with it if that's what happened.


January 19th, 2018 at 9:25 PM ^

you'd be crazy to use it if you have any intention of growing a brand. It's just way too risky under those conditions.

It's like saying, ok, you're a competitor of ours and we'll let you stand on this rug but we're going to keep our hands on it and we can pull it out from under you at any time if you do anything we don't like (i.e. grow such that you're cutting into our market share in any way).  Oh, and since anyone can now infringe on your IP because you're restricted from protecting it, anyone else can come stand on this rug and nudge you off it. 

They would have had to change their name had they lost this (but they won of course).



January 19th, 2018 at 11:12 PM ^

You're not mistaken. However, in filing the action, Bell's premise was that somehow, the beer-consuming public might confuse Innovation Brewing with one of two things: 1)  Bell's "Inspired Brewing" slogan (which, lol...wut?), or 2) a bumper sticker that says "Bottling innovation since 1985."   

I have followed this case somewhat closely. It was filed in 2014 and dragged on until its recent conclusion. I grew up in NC, but have lived in A2 for 31 years now. I loved Bell's...especially Oberon... for a long time, but when I learned of this, it irritated me to no end. I can count exactly 3 times since then that I drank a Bell's beer... and only because nothing better was available wherever I was at those times.

In following this case, I reviewed a bunch of docs on the USPTO website that can be seen here. http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91215896&pty=OPP   The number of examples of others using the word "innovation" in their advertising is really large. Was Bell's going to go after all of them? Doubtful.

If Bell's can attempt to protect whatever they were trying to protect, why can't Innovation Brewing?  They can now register their name. Bell's can continue on their merry way, unaffected. The notion that any confusion between the two would ever occur is ridiculous. That Bell's was somehow trying to own the word "innovation"...even more so.

Btw, last year I was in NC for a family reunion. At my request, a cousin who lives near Innovation brought me a bottle of their Black Balsam Porter. It was fucking delicious. And oh boy, did it make me happy to drink it in my own personal protest.



January 19th, 2018 at 7:07 PM ^

There aren't many, if any, six packs of IPA that are better for $10 or less.  So I would say it's the best bang-for-your-buck beer in MI, mayyyybe the Midwest.

But definitely not ounce-for-ounce the best beer.  It's a solid, balanced beer and the price is right, but it's nothing spectacular by any means.


January 19th, 2018 at 7:23 PM ^

They both make great beers, arguing which is better is difficult. I’m just happy to one of them rated better than that way over-pubbed Pliny. Take into consideration Shorts, Bells, Foundees and New Holland and I’ll put those four up against any four breweries out of California, New York or Mass.

This isn’t even mentioning the two places in Bridgman, old nation, witches hat, etc.


January 19th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

mass is largely known for NE IPAs which are fairly new to the scene.  Trillium, Treehouse, and some others have stormed onto the scene solely because of that style, and beer nerds are going crazy for it.

I don't think think Mass comes close to CA, OR, CO and MI (in that order) for the depth and breadth of breweries yet, but they get credit for essentially pioneering a style.


January 19th, 2018 at 6:23 PM ^

You don't understand, I'm totally serious about this, I LITERALLY read Big Two Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway just last week, while drinking Two Hearted as a sort of homage. I don't know what's wrong with me.

(Oh yeah, the Hopslam. I guess it's all good)


January 19th, 2018 at 6:33 PM ^

Just had two pints with dinner at the Twisted Rooster in Belleville. Actually, I had not had Two-Hearted Ale in a while, but it is probably one of the best Midwestern brews, in agreement with someone above. 

My wife went with the Atwater Dirty Blonde, which is something I actually keep in stock in the basement as well. 


January 19th, 2018 at 5:44 PM ^

Right brain is very good, plus I dig the atmosphere. Shorts was sweet when it was small, but just feels like any other brewery now. But super fluid is still one of my top dipa’s.


January 19th, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

Have heard so much about Bell’s that I’m dying to try it. Can’t get it in Canada without a bunch of back and forth. Visits home to Windsor have not resulted in crossing the border to pick some up. Michigan seems to have a ton of good breweries. Jealousy.

But if any of you can get your hand on some Collective Arts brews out of Hamilton, Ontario... I suggest it. Ransack the Universe is a good starting point.

901 P

January 19th, 2018 at 9:32 PM ^

I think Sierra Nevada suffers a bit from the same perception issue as Oberon. Twenty years ago those beers were great in part because there were so few other "creative" beers available. Now the availability of great beers has exploded, so Sierra Nevada and Oberon can be seen as mediocre. Now they are just decent because rather than great because they are being compared to a whole different set of beers.