Taken at Boneyard Beer in bend, OR.
Taken at Boneyard Beer in bend, OR.
You may have seen Aaron Goldfarb’s recent Esquire blog entitled “How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.” Great headline, and how cool would that be, right? I was skeptical, for obvious reasons, but it turns out that what is proposed is an idea developed by Joseph Owades, who Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.”
I figured I’d test the method myself, and not just because it would give me an excuse to drink too much.
First, how does it work? Read more
Tasty coppery ale with crisp pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg high notes and rich malt body. Read more
There’s a petition making the rounds on Facebook. The short version is that Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing is suing Lexington, KY-based West Sixth Brewing for trademark infringement. West Sixth is asking the good citizens of Facebook to help them back Magic Hat off. You can read the post here, and it nicely explains the kerfuffle from West Sixth’s perspective. Have a look here for Magic Hat’s side of the story, and rest assured, their version differs from West Sixth’s.
Here are the logos in question. First, the full MH mark:
And here’s the West Sixth logo alongside the Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale mark that is the point of gravest consternation.
My initial reaction was along the lines of “bite me, Magic Hat.” I’m someone who tends to believe that most corporate litigation is wankery (the main job of lawyers being to keep their profession healthy) and this is a case where I just don’t see the point. I’m not an attorney, but I have been a brand nazi (I sort of own that role with a couple of clients right now, in fact), so I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the issues surrounding brand integrity and infringement.
My friend and former student Seth Michalak (one of the two or three best students I ever had the pleasure of teaching, in fact) isn’t so sure, and we’ve been back and forth this morning on the issue. He began thusly:
Seth: I’m no fan of Magic Hat, but have you seen the logos side by side? It’s fairly telling that West 6th uses the general Magic Hat logo and not the #9 logo that is in question on their site…
Well, they use elements of both. Yes, the W6 “6” is similar to an upside down MH “9,” but the eight-sided star resembles, sorta, the star on the MH primary logo. W6 uses a clean, symmetrical star as opposed to MH’s stylized “hippie” star, but it’s an eight-sided star paired with a “6” that employs a similar font to the MH “9.”
How similar are they? Well, close but not exactly. I broke out the Photoshop and did a little overlay for comparison sake.
I have no doubt that the W6 logo is, ummm, inspired by MH. But this kind of thing happens every day. I can easily imagine the folks at W6 telling the design firm that “hey, we like that Magic Hat look and feel – can you do something like that?” And designers being what they are – that is, sheep – the result is a logo that’s a good bit homage. But do you look at the two and get confused?
If imitating were a crime Apple could sue about a million companies. Wander through the world of corporate logo and Web design and count the number of sites that owe their souls to the Cupertino design team, which may be the most influential industrial design collective in history. You can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a Mac rip-off.
So sure – if I’m MH, I might be sneering at the wannabes, but suing them?
Seth: If people don’t get confused then what is the point of such an homage? It’s trading on someone else’s reputation by creating a link in the consumer’s mind. We both know that a lot of marketing happens on a subconscious level.
Good point. But. You can invoke an emotional response without confusing someone. In fact, you don’t want the imitation to rise to the level of conscious awareness. Once the customer starts thinking actively about it, you lose ground quickly. Brands work best at the emotional and, as you say, subconscious level. Feel is good, think bad. So if you’re going to imitate, do it subtly.
Listen, there are only so many ways that a logo can look. There are a finite number of visual identity approaches that are stylish and that speak to what you want to accomplish as a brand. If you look at the logo samples produced by that design shop, you’ll see a certain trendy, ragged-around-the-edges aesthetic that looks contemporary and familiar and slightly hip. Every single one of them is stylistically familiar, yet the best of the lot come off as fresh and engaging. (These guys aren’t my style, for sure, but they’re not bad at all for a local retail-focused designer.)
If you had never seen the MH logo, the W6 mark wouldn’t look even slightly out of place in that portfolio.
I’m not arguing that West Sixth isn’t ripping Magic Hat off. As I say, designers are sheep and just about every new logo you encounter is ripping somebody off, whether you know it or not. I have sat and watched very talented designers sift through online logo boards looking for things to steal. This is where SO many of them get their ideas. In this case, though, the core idea was apparently lifted from someone visible and established in the same industry, making the process a little more obvious than usual. Were I the brand nazi at W6 I’d have guided the process in a different direction because I don’t want to risk getting lost in someone else’s shadow, but I guess that’s just me.
But this doesn’t mean what they did is necessarily illegal. Ultimately that will be up to the courts to decide if it gets that far (which I doubt). It seems that MH is going to play hell trying to assert that they own a font family that existed long before they did or that another brewery shouldn’t be allowed to use a visual design concept that’s being used by who knows how many other businesses around the country already.
Seth: I would say check out some of the posts on Reddit that have Magic Hat’s side to this story before doing so. It rounds out the picture a bit more than the post from W6 alone does. W6 says Magic Hat doesn’t want to talk, and Magic Hat says they have talked and W6 walked away. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The point is that W6 likely isn’t the victim of a blindside that the post contends.
Oh, of this I have no doubt. I’m not going to look at those two logos side by side and conclude that West Sixth has all the angels on its side. I encourage readers to have a look at both of those links up top and draw their own conclusions.
In the end, I absolutely get why MH is annoyed, but this is one of those cases where winning the battle might cost them the war. Regardless of the outcome, they have allowed themselves to be cast as a big lawyered-up corporate bully in a dust-up with a brewery in feckin’ Kentucky that until now nobody had ever heard of. And not everybody is going to see the Reddit thread.
It seems to me that there is little to be gained legally and a lot to be lost on the PR front.
Originally posted 3.17.08 and re-posted each St. Patrick’s Day.
I won’t be wearing green today.
Don’t get me wrong – like many Americans, I’ve got plenty of Irish blood in my veins, and I’m quite happy to celebrate that heritage.
But this St. Patrick thing… Sadly, very few people have stopped to think about exactly what they’re celebrating, or whom. Patrick is credited with leading the Christianization of Ireland and it’s said he “drove the snakes out” of the place. That, of course, is metaphorical. The serpent was an ancient druidic symbol of wisdom, and the thing that was literally driven out of (or murdered and buried in the ground of) Ireland was the vibrant, centuries-old culture of the Celts. There aren’t any snakes native to Ireland, but that’s about evolution, not Patricius.
When a Christian missionary went into a new place it was with one goal – extinguish what he found and replace it with Christianity. We see an illuminating example of how the process might begin in Acts 17:23-34, where Paul stumbles upon an opportunity and seizes it like the last bottle of whiskey in Galway.
23For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33So Paul departed from among them.
34Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Obviously there’s no reason at all to think that the Athenians were accidentally paying tribute to the Christian god, but understanding and accepting the essence and traditions of a culture was hardly the point.
But at least Patrick and other Christian missionaries of the time went the warm and fuzzy, let’s-all-sing-“Kumbaya” route, right? Ummm, is that what history has taught us about early Christians?
Patrick began to destroy the influence of the Druids by destroying the sacred sites of the people and building churches and monasteries where the Druids used to live and teach. Gradually, the might of the Druidic class was broken by a bitter campaign of attrition. Instead of hearing the teachings and advice of the Druids, the people began to hear the teachings of Rome. Because the Druids were the only ones who were taught to remember the history, with the Druids dead and their influence broken, the history was forgotten.
Patrick won. By killing off the teachers and the wise ones, his own religion could be taught. For this mass conversion of a culture to Christianity, and for the killing of thousands of innocent people, Patrick was made a Saint by his church. (Source)
In a very real way, the celebration of St. Patrick is a celebration of cultural genocide, and the fact that the millions of revelers parading in the streets this morning and packing every bar in America tonight don’t realize it – that they’re doing so perhaps as naïvely as the Druids might initially have welcomed Patrick – is of little comfort. Why? You tell me – would a fuller understanding of what happened put even the slightest dent in our nation’s annual green beer sales figures?
I’m not telling you to stay home or to forego a drink in remembrance of old Ireland. By all means, lift a pint tonight. But don’t do so in celebration of an inquisitor. Instead, do so in memory of the light that he helped extinguish.
To the Rose upon the Rood of Time
by William Butler Yeats
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man’s fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
Come near, come near, come nearâ€”Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
I love microbrew. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I’m a proud beer snob and have been since first moving to Boulder in 1993. Colorado, along with states like Oregon and California, led the micro revolution in the ’90s and when I landed here I was absolutely staggered by the number and quality of local beers available to me. The state continues to be one of the the nation’s brewing leaders, with Denver/Boulder (as you’d expect) being at the epicenter. Some interesting facts:
- Denver ranks first in the nation in per capita beer production.
- Denver is second in the nation in number of total breweries in a city. Read more
Colorado has, over the past 15 years or so, established itself as a genuine microbrew mecca, and just about every place you walk into either makes their own or is serving up something produced by one of our many local breweries. We host the Great American Beer Festival every fall, and while we tip our caps to all the great micros in other places around the country, most of us around here are convinced that Denver is the best city for beer in the country.
Before I dive in, let me offer a caveat. I love beer and have tasted just about everything I’m going to mention below (and a lot more), but I have my blind spots. I’m all about the malts and aside from wheats in the warm months I rarely drink anything lighter than an amber. If you’re a hophead or love things like blondes and pilsners, I’m not an ideal source of wisdom. So, a couple suggestions. First, ask the bartender and request a taster when you see something that looks to have potential. Second, we recommend you investigate what Beer Advocate has to say. They have reviews for just about every beer in the world and those reviewers are serious brews connoisseurs.
Now, pull up a stool. Read more
We’ve just been informed that Scholars & Rogues has been credentialed to cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Frankly, we have no idea what the hell the DNC was thinking here, because if ever there was a crew you’d want to keep as far away from any kind of responsible proceeding as possible, it’s us.
But hey, they made the decision. So we’re going to try and be on our best behavior. Read more
It’s around 9 a.m. May 1, 1994. My stepmother, Kathie, has spent the night at Forsyth Memorial Hospital with my father, Larry, who will die late this afternoon. Their next-door neighbor, Wayne, is driving her home so she can shower and maybe get an hour or two of sleep. She hasn’t slept much in the six weeks since Daddy was admitted to the hospital with massive liver failure. Wayne has been a constant and salving presence during his friend’s illness.
Ten miles, maybe, down Silas Creek Parkway, through the south side of Winston-Salem, then on out Highway 109’s low, pine-strewn roll of hills to where Gumtree Road cuts across, demarcating the northern boundary of Wallburg, NC. This is where Daddy and Kathie live, and it’s where I grew up. These are the cultural outlands of the sprawling new metropolitan South. Our neighborhood straddles the Davidson and Forsyth County lines, and stands too far out into the country to be properly called suburban. But it’s also way too close to Winston to be considered rural. In some senses it’s a border town, possessing neither the urban sophistication of the city nor the kind of “agrarian virtue” my college Politics professor liked to attribute to country living. Antebellum mystique is dead elsewhere, and it never happened here. Read more