Beer Man

Craft brewing community will rally around Strange Brewing with a beer fest fundraiser

When Strange Brewing Company opened in May 2010 and kicked off a wave of new craft brewery development in the Denver area that continues to grow astronomically, owners Tim Myers and John Fletcher became the godfathers to some of those who followed, offering help, advice and support to anyone who asked.

Now, that community is returning the favor by holding a beer festival fundraiser to help Strange pay for possible legal fees it may incur in a trademark dispute with a similarly-named Massachusetts homebrew shop that has threatened to sue.

See more: - Strange Brewing faces a trademark threat from a Massachusetts homebrew shop - Left Hand Brewing wages a trademark battle for the word "Nitro" - Strange Brewing opens biergarten, talks about expansion

"Tim is one of those guys who would give you the shirt off his back if you asked," says Russell Fruits, a part-owner of Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland. "If it had been a different brewery, maybe one that wasn't like that, it might not have worked."

Fruits is the organizer of the Strange Days beer fest, which takes place January 27 at the Rackhouse Pub; the fundraiser will include beer donated by more than two dozen breweries across the state. Tickets are $25 -- although you can give more -- and all of it will be donated to Strange for its legal defense fund.

Strange and Grimm started around the same time, and Fruits says Myers is a good friend and that it took him only 24 hours to get the first dozen or so breweries on board.

Myers is still trying to work out a resolution with the owner of Strange Brew Beer & Wine Making Supplies in Marlboro, Massachusetts. If he is successful, the money from the fundraiser will be donated to the Colorado Adaptive Sports Foundation.

The trouble started in September when Strange got a letter from the homebrew store's lawyer demanding that the brewery change its name.

"Your continued operation of a microbrewery establishment under the name 'Strange Brewing Company' is causing and is likely to continue to cause consumer confusion, deception, damage to my client's good will, brand name and reputation, and constitutes a direct infringement of my client's federal trademark rights," the lawyer wrote. "We therefore demand that you immediately undertake steps to cease any further commercial use of the term 'Strange Brewing Company' in connection with your business establishment and that you adopt a term that is entirely dissimilar to this term in the continued operation of your business."

Myers responded with a letter offering to team up with the homebrew shop by marketing its kits in the Colorado brewery and by licensing one of its recipes to the shop -- something that would benefit both small businesses and avoid legal hassles. But the shop's owner, Brian Powers, turned him down. And on November 2, Powers's lawyer officially rejected Myers's offer, calling it "offensive," and threatening to sue.

The Strange Days benefit runs from 3 to 6 p.m.. on January 27. There will live music, and the Rackhouse will be selling food. You can buy tickets, $25, at; none will be available at the door.

Some of the breweries on hand include: Big Choice, Breckenridge, Caution, Crystal Springs, Echo, Great Divide, High Hops, Loveland Ale Works, Our Mutual Friend, Pateros Creek, Very Nice, Strange and Grimm.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes