Beer Man

Denver Pearl Brewing Changing Name to Avoid Confusion, Possible Legal Action

Just three months after opening in the Platt Park neighborhood, Denver Pearl Brewing is changing its name in order to avoid confusion and the possibility of legal action from two other breweries, one local and one in another state.

Denver Pearl has selected a new name -- one that avoids the words Denver and Pearl -- but doesn't plan to reveal it until a party on September 6, says founder Colby Rankin.

See also: Kettle & Stone changes name to Vindication Brewing at the request of Stone Brewing

"I didn't get into this business to spend time in a courtroom," he explains. "We just wanted less drama and to take the easy road out on this and not fight it."

Rankin says that he received notice before he opened from Pabst Blue Ribbon that the company owned the trademark to Pearl Brewing in San Antonio. Although that brewery itself is defunct, Pabst still makes Pearl and Pearl Light for Texas drinkers.

As for the local brewery, Rankin didn't name them, except to say in a statement that they "felt they were entitled to the sole use of the word 'Denver' in craft brewing."

The only other brewery in town with the word Denver in it is Denver Beer Co., which was founded three years ago this month by Patrick Crawford and Charlie Berger.

Berger says he and Crawford invited Rankin over for a beer several months ago and told him that they were concerned about customer confusion. "We expressed our reservations. It was not a personal thing. But we said that in this busy beer business, everyone has a chance to be individual and unique and that they had a chance to do that."

Although Rankin says he believes the brewery planned to take legal action, Berger insists that Denver Beer Co didn't threaten Denver Pearl at all.

To make the change, Denver Pearl has been working on changing its logo, kegs and merchandise. "The brewing community has been awesome in reaching out to us and helping us do that," he adds.

The renaming party will take place from noon until midnight on September 6 and will feature several new beers, special barrel-aged releases and prizes. Denver Pearl will announce its new name and roll out new merchandise at the party.

Trademark and naming issues are nothing new in the craft brewing industry and have become more common as new breweries open on a daily basis nationwide. In May, Boulder's Kettle and Stone Brewing changed its name to Vindication Brewing after legal action was suggested by California's Stone Brewing. That same month, Strange Brewing changed its name to Strange Craft Beer Company after settling a trademark dispute.

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