Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s new seasonal brew Alchemy Hour Double IPA will disappear after this year -- at least its name will. Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. in Portland owns the trademark for "Alchemy" and is putting the kabosh on Great Lakes using the name in the future.
Brady Walen, brand manager for Widmer, said his brewery has great respect for Great Lakes and its beers, but has to protect its brand identity. Widmer — which released its own year-round Alchemy Ale on Monday — has owned the trademark since 2006.
The Portland brewery found out about Alchemy Hour shortly before it was released last month, Walen said. "It sounds like they just didn't know that we have Alchemy as a trademark," he said.
Knowing how much Great Lakes invested in the beer and understanding that it was a short-run seasonal brew, he said, Widmer allowed Great Lakes to release the beer, but asked that the name not be used again in the future.
"We feel like we found a good way to handle this," he said.
Great Lakes, located in Cleveland, declined comment.
Brewers often fiercely defend their trademarks so it’s not unusual for one brewery to advise another to stop using a particular name. A couple of years ago, Indigo Imp Brewery in Cleveland was forced to change the name of its Winter Solstice beer to Winter Soul after Anderson Valley Brewing Co. complained about the name infringing on its trademark.
The trademark issue is coming up more frequently because of the number of breweries opening in the U.S. There are only so many names to go around.
"It’s extremely tough to find a beer name that’s well representative of your brand and that tells the story you want to tell," Walen said.