“Brewed the Hard Way.” It’s a phrase Anheuser-Busch wanted to trademark after its infamous Budweiser Super Bowl ad (check it out above) that portrayed craft drinkers as fussy, know-it-all, pinky drinkers who love to sip “pumpkin peach ale” out of snifters. Backed by its Belgian mothership, Anheuser-Busch InBev, 12 breweries located throughout the United States and a team of 500 independent wholesalers, Anheuser-Busch typically gets what it wants, but not this time around.
Enter Martin City Brewing Co. (started in 2011), which just opened a new pizzeria, taproom and state-of-the-art brewery in Kansas City in 2014. Its finely crafted beers may only be distributed locally in the Kansas City metro area, but the brewery recently put the kibosh on some Anheuser-Busch (A-B) plans to trademark the phrase “Brewed the Hard Way.”
But what A-B didn’t know was that a Kansas City brewpub called Martin City Brewing Company had filed an application for a very similar trademark the day before, on February 5, 2015. The brewery sells a beer called Hard Way IPA — and unlike Budweiser, it wasn’t just intending to use the “hard way” verbiage. Its trademark application was for “actual use.”
As the Kaider Law firm in Washington, D.C., later reported on its blog, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office appears to be siding with the little guy: The blog notes that the patent office suspended A-B’s application last month, pending the outcome of Martin City’s application.
Score another win for the craft brewing community. While A-B continues to market against the craft industry, it’s also buying up craft breweries, and so this anti-craft campaign is schizophrenic at best. Martin City Brewing also sent a statement to the Riverfront Times, which is worth reading.
We are excited to continue to offer our IPA, crafted the hard way. At MCBCo., we believe in the true passion that goes into every craft brewer’s products. While we have no particular issues with brewing at a macro scale, we do take issue with anyone or any corporation that tries to segment a part of the population which embodies the very nature of loving beer. It seems counter-intuitive to segregate potential customers and pass judgment on their tastes. MCBCo. believes that every person has the right to love the beer of their choice, whether it be a sour ale, creamy stout, or even a light lager.