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Gordon Biersch forces Oskar Blues to say G'Knight to its Gordon beer

The new label will be Gordon-free.
The new label will be Gordon-free.

Oskar Blues will change the name of one of its four year-round beers after the Tennessee-based Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group threatened to sue the Colorado company for trademark infringement, says Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis.

Gordon, the Oskar Blues beer, is named for Gordon Knight, a fire-fighting helicopter pilot and brewer who helped create the Twisted Pine, Wolf Tongue and Estes Park breweries in the early 1990s. Knight was killed in 2002 when the helicopter he was using to drop water on a fire near Lyons crashed.

The beer will be renamed G'Knight, and Oskar Blues will hold a party on February 19 at its Tasty Weasel tap house in Longmont, to celebrate the beer and its namesake. Knight's birthday was February 20; he would have been 61.

"They issued us a cease and desist," Melis says about Gordon Biersch, which recently merged with Colorado-based Rock Bottom Brewing to form Craftworks.

"So we decided it was time to make the change, to embrace the idea, to have fun with it and to bring attention to a beer that doesn't get as much attention as it should."

The old label is on its way out.
The old label is on its way out.

The recipe for the beer, an unusual cross between a red and a double IPA that was first canned in 2005, will stay the same, as will the green color of the can, but Oskar Blues can no longer use the word "Gordon" anywhere on the label. Gordon Knight's name will also be removed from the tribute, which reads, "If you knew Gordon Knight, this ale needs no explanation. If you didn't, we're sorry." In addition, the words "Big. Red. Sticky." will be changed to "Still Big. Still Red. Still Sticky."

Gordon is on Westword's list of fifty beers to drink before you die -- or die trying. It is part of the brewery's year-round line-up, which includes Dale's Pale Ale, Mama's Little Yella Pils and Old Chub. Oskar Blues also makes two seasonals, Ten FIDY and Gubna.

Gordon Biersch is named for Dan Gordon and Dean Biersch, who founded the brewery in 1988. Last November, an investment group called Centerbridge Capital Partners rolled Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom (which also owns the Old Chicago chain) into a single entity called CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries.

A spokeswoman for the company didn't return calls seeking comment.

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan.

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