Tim Myers kicked off Denver's third wave of craft breweries four years ago when he and business partner John Fletcher opened Strange Brewing in a nondescript business park near Sports Authority Field at Mile High during American Craft Beer Week.
Over the last few years, Myers has made just about every mistake a small brewery could make -- and he'll celebrate them all with his usual wry smile this week as Strange marks its birthday with a bottle release, a series of beer-tappings and other events.
"We are the poster child for what not to do," he says with a laugh. "Do you want to do it the hard way? Then do it the way we did it.... Personally, I can't believe we made it."
The latest challenge is a name change: Strange Brewing will complete its switch to Strange Craft Beer Company this month -- a change that came about as the result of a trademark battle with a similarly named homebrew shop in Massachusetts.
"We have to get everything changed over or destroyed," Myers explains. "We're done with all the old growlers and pint glasses. We got the new shirts and the new web site." The new sign for the front of the building will be installed later this month.
That dispute began in September 2012, when Strange Brew Beer and Winemaking sent a harshly-worded letter to the brewery demanding that Myers stop using the Strange Brewing name because it infringed on its trademark. The shop owns the rights to the name when it comes to both production and retail sales of beer.
After negotiations failed, Myers decided to take the offensive in March 2013, asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the homebrew shop's rights to the name, saying that the company may never have actually produced a commercial beer and shouldn't be able to claim the trademark when it comes to beer production.
To avoid more court costs, the two sides decided in November 2013 to settle their differences out of court. As a result, Strange Brewing agreed to take the word "Brewing" out of its name and get rid of all merchandise and other material bearing the name.
Myers has since applied for a trademark for Strange Craft, and is waiting on the results. "I didn't care what it was as long as it was still Strange," Myers says of the name, "because that is what everyone says, anyway. 'We're heading to Strange tonight.'"
The two sides also agreed not to sell beer in each other's state for five years and not to use each other's beer names. Strange Brew's are mostly homebrew kits, so far.
In the meantime, Strange has continued to grow and expand, adding a patio and a larger space next door last year, winning a World Beer Cup medal for its Cherry Kriek in April, and bottling its second batch of Dr. Strangelove Barleywine-Style Ale.
That beer will be released this week as part of the tenth annual American Craft Beer Week, a celebration across the nation that honors the industry; it begins today and includes events at dozens of breweries, craft-beer bars and restaurants around Colorado. To see the rest of Strange's schedule, go to its Facebook page or its new web page, strangecraft.com.
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