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MicroBrewr 078: Around the world and back with the craft beer industry with The Blind Pig Brewery.

MicroBrewr 078: Around the world and back with the craft beer industry

Bill Morgan has brewed on 2-BBL systems all the way up to 250-BBL systems. Craft brewing has taken him around the world and back. Now he’s gone full-circle, brewing on 4-BBL system and loving the flexibility it provides at The Blind Pig Brewery in Champaign, Illinois.

“Is it really craft beer if it’s available in all 50 states?” [Tweet This]

 

After graduating with a degree in Biology, Bill used his left over student loan money to attend brewing school at Seibel Institute of Technology.

Within 3 years of graduating from Seibel, in 1997 he earned a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It was the first gold medal at the GABF for the first intentionally sour beer (in the Belgian Specialty Ale category). The next year, he added fruit to the same beer and earned a silver medal, plus another gold medal for an Imperial Stout.

Eventually Bill was working brewing on a 250-BBL system and managing the quality assurance lab at a production brewery in Japan.

“If you have a large brewhouse like we had,” says Bill, “it’s tough to brew some experimental brews that you’re not even sure is going to come out right. Whereas in the brewpub, who can’t get rid of 10 barrels of some kind of strange beer.”

The Blind Pig Brewery shares similar names with a former brewery in California, a beer from other currently-operating brewery in California, and even a different business around the block from them. It causes confusion for customers and disagreements with other proprietors.

Related: MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks, MicroBrewr, January 6, 2015.

How to apply for a trademark/service mark, Paul Rovella, MicroBrewr, January 8, 2015.

“You’ve really gotta do your research to find a name that won’t run you right into these kinds of problems,” Bill advises.

“It’s a nightmare and it can be a legal nightmare and you can spend a lot of money getting your brand up and going, only to discover a couple years into it that you have no other recourse but to scratch all that branding and pick something new and start over. So it can be very costly. Even if you don’t have direct legal costs up front—you don’t get sued or have to pay some gigantic fine—it can still be a significant loss just in all of the rebranding and coming up with a new name.”

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 4 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 8, 4-BBL unitanks.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 6, 4-BBL serving/bright tanks.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed approximately 500 BBL last year, pushing about 600 BBL this year.

Square footage: 100 sq. ft. in brewhouse; 100 sq. ft. in fermentation, serving tanks are tucked behind the bar; seating/bar/toilets/storage; 2,400 sq. ft. in beer garden has 120+ seats, two bars, no kitchen.

Years in operation: 6 years (opened May 2009).

Listener question:

From Austin: Did you do it for the love of beer, or did you have a more specific goal in mind?

Can’t-go-without tool:

Foursevens compact LED flashlight

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Saison

Other resources:

You can reach Bill Morgan and The Blind Pig Brewery at:

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MicroBrewr 057: Create new revenue streams for your brewpub, with Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 057: Create new revenue streams for your brewpub

Jamie Baertsch did an internship with Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co., in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and she stuck around until they started paying her. Today she’s the brewmaster, winning awards for her beer, and planning the expansion to a production facility.

Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co. is the brewing part of Moosejaw Pizza brewpub, which experiences 50% of their sales just in the summer months. During that time the brewing capacity is maxed out, but in the rest of the year it’s much slower. To keep busy and to make up for lost revenues in the slow times of the year, Wisconsin Dells Brewing how found creative ways to find income.

Besides a variety of beers, Wisconsin Dells also makes a line of hand-crafted soda beverages. Additionally, they put their beer into cans and bottles for off-site distribution.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 15 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 15-BBL fermenters; 1, 30-BBL fermenter.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 30-BBL bright tanks for beer; 9, 15-BBL bright tanks for beer; 4, 16-BBL bright tanks for soda; 2, 2-BBL bright tanks for soda.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: 1,405.70 BBL.

Square footage: 200 sq. ft. brewhouse, 2 walk-in coolers, 3 large warehouses, 2 forklifts, one truck, 2 pallet jacks.

Years in operation: 13 years (opened May 2002).

“I spent 12 years learning how to brew. And now packaging is a whole new thing.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From 76Johnyb: Where do you get inspiration for your unique brews?

Book recommendation:

  • Phone book.

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Red IPA

Other resources:

You can reach Jamie Baertsch and Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co. at:

Sponsors:

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How to apply for a trademark/service mark, guest post by Paul Rovella, L+G, LLP.

How to apply for a trademark / service mark

There are so many stories about breweries in trademark disputes. We’ve heard about breweries having to change their name, or change the name of their beer, or even being sued for 800 thousand dollars. Following the proper procedure to register your trademarks is one important way to protect you and your brewery.

A trademark is a word or design that is used to identify your company or your product. It can be the generic, plain text, to protect the words, or it can be stylized to protect the design, such as a logo.

A slogan can also be a trademark.

To fully protect your brand, you should register your trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Paul Rovella, told us all about trademarks on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 044.

This column is the work product of L+G, LLP, which has offices in Hollister and Salinas. Paul A. Rovella, Esq., an attorney with L+G, LLP, and Max Giacomazzi are the authors of this work. You may contact Paul A. Rovella at www.lg-attorneys.com.


 How to apply for a trademark/service mark

Once you have decided that you would like to apply for trademark/service mark protection (see part 1 for a primer on trademarks and service marks), it is time to apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for protection.

Please note, it is not necessary to register a trademark with the USPTO in order to protect it, there are still common law protections for trademarks and service marks based on use in commerce, however, registering a trademark or service mark provides certain benefits, including but not limited to nationwide public notice of ownership and a presumption of ownership of the mark and exclusive right to use the mark nationwide, on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration.

Decide on your mark

To apply for a trademark, you must first decide on the mark you are going to use.

There are several important factors to consider when selecting a mark. First, there can be minimal likelihood of confusion with other existing marks. Second, your mark should be easily defensible in court, or be a “strong” mark.

Marks, according to the USPTO, are placed into four categories.

The strongest marks are arbitrary and fanciful marks. These marks have no relevance to the goods being offered, and so are the most easily defensible, such as BELMICO Insurance® or BANANA Tires®.

The next category is suggestive marks. Suggestive marks suggest, but do not describe, the goods being offered. This would include PAGE-A-DAY Calendars®. Suggestive marks are also considered strong marks.

The next category is descriptive marks. Descriptive marks describe the goods being offered, such as CREAMY for yogurt or WORLD’S BEST BAGELS for bagels. Descriptive marks are considered weaker marks, because it can be difficult to defend them.

Generic marks, which don’t even qualify as marks in the legal sense, are the weakest types of marks. This would include BICYCLES for a bicycle retail store or MILK for a dairy-based beverage.

Do a trademark search

After you have decided on a mark, make sure you do a trademark search to see if any other marks are out there which might be confused with yours.

The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is offered by the USPTO for free and is available 24-7 through http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/ at “TESS search trademarks.” If you do find a mark that is similar enough with yours that there may be a likelihood of confusion, then you must pick or design a new mark.

Apply for a trademark

Applying for a trademark is complex, and requires adherence to all parts of the trademark code. Many people hire a lawyer specializing in trademark applications to speed up the process, and make sure that no part is missed.

All trademark and service mark applications can be filed electronically using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) on the USPTO website. You can also file on paper, but filing online is much easier and faster.

There are two different applications, the TEAS and the TEAS Plus. The TEAS is $325 per mark per classification. The TEAS Plus is $275 per mark per classification, but you must meet some extra filing requirements.

Once you file, you will receive a filing date, which is important because if there are two similar marks seeking trademark protection from the USPTO, the one filed first will get priority. However, there are some exceptions to this, such as if a mark which has been in use applies second. In this case, the second applier has rights.

There are a few things that must be included in the application, such as the owner’s information, a drawing of the mark, a description of the goods or services represented by the mark, and for use-based applications, depiction of the mark being used in the stream of commerce.

Once you submit the application online, your materials will be reviewed by a reviewing attorney with the USPTO for conformity to the USPTO rules and regulations before publication.

Image showing USPTO@Alexandria by Kazuhisa OTSUBO on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks, with L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law.

MicroBrewr 044: What every brewery should know about trademarks

There are so many stories about breweries in trademark disputes. The last thing you want is to get sued or pay legal fees to protect yourself. Paul Rovella is attorney and partner at L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law in Hollister, California. He tells us all about trademark issues for your brewery.

Although “common law” provides some protection, you are still at risk.

One especially painful story is that of Backshore Brewing Co. The owner, Danny Robinson told us on MicroBrewr Podcast 041 that he had to change the name of his brewery—and he was still sued for $800 thousand and has already racked up $500 thousand in legal fees.

Some other breweries who have shared their trademark issues on MicroBrewr have included Opposition Brewing Co. (episode 16) and Ferndock Brewing Company (episode 39).

Here are some basic steps to protect yourself:

  • Use the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office’s search tool to see whether someone else is already using the name you want.
  • File for a trademark.
  • Use photos or documentation to prove when you start using your business name and your trademark.

“The importance of trademark registration is actually enforcing,” says Paul, “which could be a time consuming and an expensive endeavor.”

There are other options besides suing to protect your brand.

“I always encourage my clients to try to deal directly with their adversary,” Paul advises. “Because then you’re not paying an attorney to create more paper to send to another attorney.”

From the least strenuous to the most, here are the best options for enforcing your trademark:

  1. Make a polite phone call to the person who is using your trademark.
  2. Send a cease and desist letter.
  3. Get a restraining order or injunction and get a judge to make them stop.

PLEASE NOTE: Nothing on this podcast should be deemed legal advice. If you have any questions about the discussions or subject matter of this podcast, you should consult an attorney.

“Smaller businesses gotta be a little more diplomatic in getting someone to stop using your label.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

If you could ask one question to every brewer or brewery owner, what would you ask? Let me know.

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Ginger beer soda

Other resources:

You can reach Paul Rovella and L+G, LLP Attorneys at Law at:

Image showing 3D Judges Gavel by Chris Potter on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its original state. (www.stockmonkeys.com)

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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MicroBrewr 041: A flagship nanobrewery in a tourist town, with Backshore Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 041: A flagship nanobrewery in a tourist town

Danny Robinson had the choice of building a giant brewery in the middle of nowhere, or a tiny brewery right on the beach and boardwalk. He chose the later and made Backshore Brewing Co. in Ocean City, Maryland.

“The plan from the beginning was to have this nanobrewery up on the boardwalk, be the flagship of the brand.”

It seems to be working. In a town whose population fluctuates from 3,000 in the winter to 300,000 in the summer, Backshore has a 1-BBL brewhouse and has beer made under contract to meet demand.

I first heard about Backshore Brewing from Alexis Irvin, who spoke with us on MicroBrewr Podcast 040. Check out episode 40 to hear about Blood, Sweat, and Beer documentary and to get a coupon code for 20% off the price when your order a digital download of the movie.

Some of Danny’s advice to others:

  • Get really deep with the math.
  • Get a mentor and find more mentors.
  • Play to your strengths.
  • Be honest with yourself, but keep trusting yourself.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of packaging and marketing.

Brewery specs:

Kettle size: 1 BBL.

Size and quantity of fermentation tanks: 4, 2-BBL fermenters.

Size and quantity of bright tanks: 2, 2-BBL bright tanks, sometimes used as fermenters.

Annual brewing capacity/last year’s production: Brewed 200 BBL last year, contracted 400 BBL for distribution.

Square footage: 600 sq. ft., with 500 sq. ft deck.

Years in operation: 2.5 years (opened May 2012).

“A business is very different from a hobby.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Federico Nussbaum: How can we find out how many beers to have on tap in the start? How can we find out which styles to serve in our local area?

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Ciders

Other resources:

You can reach Danny Robinson and Backshore Brewing Co. at:

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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MicroBrewr 039: Apprenticing in a brewery incubator program, with Ferndock Brewing Company.

MicroBrewr 039: Apprenticing in a brewery incubator program

Kyle Roth is just about to finish the brewing apprenticeship through Platform Beer Co.’s incubator program. Soon he, his brother and cousins, partners in Ferndock Brewing Company in Sandusky, Ohio, will venture out on their own.

We heard from Paul Benner, who told us about Platform Beer Co.’s incubator program, in MicroBrewr Podcast episode 026. Kyle is the first person to go through the brewing apprenticeship program and he’s so glad that he did.

The apprenticeship gave Kyle a jumpstart in everything he needs to know to open a brewery.

His advice to a homebrewer who wants to start a commercial brewery:

  • Start earlier
  • Make connections
  • Find a mentor
  • Talk to brewers

“Best idea so far has been joining Platform Beer Co. and taking this opportunity to go pro.” [Tweet This]

 

Listener question:

From Jimmy Batte: How do you get your percent cost mark up? Is there a typical 30% you apply to everything? What is the general guideline?

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Gose

Other resources:

You can reach Kyle Roth and Ferndock Brewing Company at:

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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MicroBrewr 016: Nanobreweries rise up! with Opposition Brewing Co.

MicroBrewr 016: Nanobreweries rise up!

In this episode I talk with Nick Ellis, founder and brewmaster at Opposition Brewing Co. in Medford, Oregon.

In 2011 Nick was employed as a bookkeeper when he received notice that he would loose his job within a year. So he and his wife, Erin partnered with Dennis and Penni Poncia to start the nanobrewery in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. They began with a 0.5-BBL system, but soon moved up to a 1.5-BBL system. Now they’re getting ready to install a 7-BBL system and are planning to package beer for distribution.

In the beginning, all 4 of them worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week. Now approaching their second anniversary, they’re getting things smoothed out and they each work about 9-hour days, 6 days a week.

We discuss the viability of CSA programs for homebrewers. Following the Community Supported Agriculture model, a box would be delivered to your doorstep on a regular basis. Rather than produce, it would have locally-grown ingredients for making your own beer.

Nick fully debunks any claims that nanobreweries cannot be profitable.

He also shares some great advice, including:

  • Vet and register your name before using it
  • Plan for yeast management
  • Engage your customers with a fun, creative club

Listener question:

From Christina Sierra: Tell me why you brew what you do.

Book recommendation:

Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.

Your Free Audio Book

An upcoming beer style:

Flanders red

Other resources:

You can reach Nick Ellis and Opposition Brewing Co. at:

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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starting-brewery-in-hawaii

MicroBrewr 011: Starting a Brewery in Hawaii w/ Sean Garvey

Welcome to MicroBrewr Podcast #11!

In this podcast, I got to talk with Sean Garvey who’s currently raising funds to start up a brewery in Hawaii. Since Sean is right in the middle of the money raising phase, we got to talk about his experiences when seeking out potential investors and asking them to invest. We also talk about starting a brewery in a location that experiences a lot of tourism and how to strike a balance between reaching out to locals while also getting the attention of tourists who will be on the island for a limited amount of time. Sit back, sip on your favorite local beer and enjoy!

Here’s a highlight of what we discuss in this interview with Sean:Hawaii-Beer

  • Developing your business plan in “off hours” when working full time
  • How to stay motivated and push forward to your end goal
  • Getting the word out to tourists while also pleasing your local fans
  • How to factor in extra costs when you brew in a remote area
  • The pros and cons of going with a distribution brewery instead of a brewpub
  • The art of raising money and the challenges along the way
  • How to find people willing to invest in your brewery
  • Realizing that most potential investors are probably not even going to read through your business plan
  • Building the team around you that have key strengths to propel your brewery

Links and Resources Covered

Hawaii Market Research

Garveyaz@yahoo.com

Your Free Audio Book

Support MicroBrewr

Help keep MicroBrewr on the air. CLICK HERE for ways you can help.

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