A few years ago, nitro beer was seemingly a Guinness exclusive, but the process of beer nitrogenation and its deliciously creamy results have found a new home in the American craft brewing industry (sorry Dublin). Two-plus years ago, Left Hand Brewing Co. introduced its N2 delicious Milk Stout Nitro at the Great American Beer Festival, which it boasted as the first nitrogenated beer packaged by an American craft brewer (read all about it). When folks talk about “nitro,” it’s a reference to the type of gas used in the carbonation process. It means the difference between the creamier nitrogen beers (N2) and their lively, fizzier carbon dioxide (CO2) cousins (get real detailed over here).
A lot of folks might consider the term “nitro’ to be a generic one (there are lots of nitros on the market now), but Left Hand might disagree with you. In fact, the Longmont-Colo. brewery is attempting to trademark “Nitro” as it applies to beer (apparently, they’ve been trying for some time). The brewery has certainly defined the word in the craft lexicon in America, but does that give the brewery the right to have exclusive rights to the term? Is that exactly what they’re looking for (exclusivity)? A lot of people took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their concerns, and Left Hand responded with this blog below.
CONCERNS REGARDING THE NITRO TRADEMARK APPLICATION
We hear your concerns and would like to respond to your questions regarding the Nitro trademark application. Left Hand Brewing started the trademark process for “Milk Stout Nitro” and “Nitro,” names in 2011 when we were the first U.S. brewery to bottle nitrogenated beers. Our goal has not changed but has been recently misunderstood. We are seeking to protect the name of our best selling products that we have spent a significant amount of time and resources to develop, not the style — not nitrogenated beers. Unfortunately, much of what we are seeing being picked up by media and shared recently is to the contrary. We do not wish to halt craft innovation or stop nitro-style beers from being produced or poured. We are simply trademarking the name our bottled beer has become so well known for. We believe another beer named simply, “Nitro” or “Milk Stout Nitro,” would confuse the public and dilute the strength of the brand we have worked so hard to build.
Left Hand will continue to be supportive of our craft brew brethren. In fact, we just returned from Oskar Blues, also in Longmont, Colorado and famous for revolutionizing craft beer in cans, where our two founders and employees celebrated the innovation of Oskar Blues’ Old Chub Nitro in the can. Left Hand Brewing will not be pursuing any action against Oskar Blues (who has filed for their own trademark for Old Chub Nitro) and is congratulatory for this major craft accomplishment — nitro in the can.
So while trademarking a name is not uncommon in the industry, we understand that the Nitro trademark can raise many questions. Left Hand’s motivation is not to hinder competition but to protect the future of our brand, our employees and the integrity of products. We hope that our fans and industry friends will see by our actions that our intentions are in line with being a leader in the craft industry that continues to support our community and offer quality beers that provide the ultimate drinking experience.
The Left Hand Brewing Team