Seriously? No Coast?


Seriously? No Coast?

To our friends and fans,
Some people and companies are builders and look to grow themselves authentically and creatively. Some want to use other’s energy so they can step up or push somebody else down for their own benefit. We will always strive to be the former.

As you know, Peace Tree Brewing Company has been producing No Coast IPA since late 2013. In 2014, we decided to bottle it and in 2015 it became a year round staple in our line up. We named it No Coast after one of our internal brainstorming sessions, finally settling on No Coast because Brewmaster Joe felt like it really indicated that this was a different IPA to come out of the Midwest….aggressive citrusy hops reflective of what you might find on the coasts, but well balanced embracing Midwest sensibilities. We all loved the name and did some searching to make sure no one else was using it. We found North Coast Brewing in California that often abbreviates itself to No. Coast and didn’t feel like it was a conflict due to geography and the fact that it’s an abbreviation. We also found Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale from New Glarus. Closer, but theirs really seemed to be Moon Man with No Coast as a descriptor of the style and again we felt like we weren’t stepping on toes.

Fast forward to last week when I got a message from one of our good customers that a new brewery, owned by the folks from Mahaska Bottling in Oskaloosa, a mere 30 minutes from us, was planning to name their brewery No Coast Brewing Company. Feels a little close. Feels even closer since that same company sent their new head brewer to take a tour at our place last year. We graciously opened our doors and offered up advice to this aspiring homebrewer turning professional as is customary in the craft beer industry. The brewer even complimented the name No Coast.

Whether they were already contemplating this name or not, I do not know. However, they knew this was a name we had been using when they filed a trademark registration on it. I sent an email to them last week to express my concern that using this name would leave to confusion in the marketplace, not to mention it’s not a great way to make friends in the Iowa Craft Beer industry which up until this point has been all about collaboration, cooperation and respect. They said they aren’t doing an IPA so it really wouldn’t matter…I’m calling bullshit. And I hope you would too.

It’s costly to develop brands; it’s even more costly to defend them. We are exploring our legal options and the best course of action for our company. But here’s what you should know in the meantime:
• Peace Tree was created from the heart, out of a desire to build something that would enhance our communities, both Knoxville and the Iowa craft beer scene. We are grounded in history, geography and culture; a true reflection of my and my fellow founders’ desire to build good things and create value.

• Brewmaster Joe Kesteloot’s passion for creating amazing beer is uncompromised no matter what its name. From day one we have been focused on making high quality, interesting beer and keeping that in the forefront; everything else is secondary.

• Everyone involved in Peace Tree is committed to producing and providing great beer from brewing to packaging to serving in our taproom. You won’t find a more genuine group of people who not only work hard but each contributes to the collective awesome nature of Peace Tree. No one can take that away.

• We have always tried to innovate when possible–purposefully and respectfully coming to market with styles other Iowa brewers were not doing. Joe has so many beers he wants to make but we have always prioritized styles that are not readily available or that offer a unique twist.

• We love our craft beer industry peers who hold true to the ideal of making craft. While we do compete, we know that we are still a very small share of the beer market; Iowa made beer is an even smaller share of that market. Through hours of volunteer support of the Iowa Brewer’s Guild and our fellow breweries we know that a rising tide lifts all boats. We don’t poke holes in each other’s hulls.

• In 10 years, no one will likely care or know about this little rift. However, we will sleep well tonight knowing we have always come from a place of authenticity and integrity. We will continue to put our energy into making great beer, continue to tell our story, treat our customers, distributors, staff and peers with respect and encourage more building up, innovation and creation.

• I am pushing this based on principle. I can’t sit back and watch as others take what we have created for their own benefit. It’s not fair to all those who have helped make Peace Tree the awesome company it is today. And I hope when you see this happen, in this case, or in the many others that happen every day, from small start ups trying to get a leg up to large corporate conglomerates trying to squash the little ones, you will think about what you really believe in and then spend your money and time where it fits. Likewise, if we misstep—we are certainly not perfect, let us know! We always want to be better than we were yesterday.

We didn’t make this problem but unfortunately we have to deal with it. We plan to keep growing our company to provide meaningful personal and professional opportunities to our staff, support our families, and maybe someday retire. In the meantime, we will do our best to make great beer, share it with friends and have a fabulous time doing it! We look forward to sharing a beer with you in our taproom, in our new Des Moines location or out at one of our many fine retailers. As Joe Maddon puts it, “Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.”

All my best,

Megan McKay

President
Peace Tree Brewing Company

If you have questions or comments about this statement you can reach me at megan@peacetreebrewing.com.

15Comments

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  1. 1
    Sarah

    I agree with you on this and would hope that they could work together with you on this….. I will be crossing my fingers for you!

  2. 3
    Doug

    I make choice each time I make a beer purchase. I will choose NOT to purchase their beer if this isn’t resolved. Period. Others should make the same choice.

  3. 4
    Doug

    Each time I purchase beer I make a choice. Unless this is resolved in the proper manner I will choose not to purchase their beer. Others should choose the same.

  4. 5
    Ryan

    People don’t respect the intellectual property and branding creative people in an industry develop. This is pretty blatant theft. No bones about it.

  5. 7
    Brett Martin

    They saw a great name and stole it. “Feels even closer since that same company sent their new head brewer to take a tour at our place last year. We graciously opened our doors and offered up advice to this aspiring homebrewer turning professional as is customary in the craft beer industry. The brewer even complimented the name No Coast.” Personally, I have had to defend frivolous suits and it is VERY EXPENSIVE (whoever pays the most $ matter of factly wins in our legal system) but the fact that you can prove he toured your facility makes this a winner for you- having said that it will still require legal fees that you will most likely never recover. In all likelihood this will be a debt based venture that fails rapidly. I would send a certified cease and desist from a prominent attorney and go to the trademark trial and appeal board. The fact that they are less than 30 miles from you speaks volumes. I suppose they could argue yours is a single product in a line vs. theirs being a corporate identity but still.

  6. 8
    Ken

    I am very proud of Megan for putting this out there. I can tell you it is not an easy decision to take an issue like this public. But I feel she did the right thing and ultimately Megan and Peace Tree will win in the end. You go girl!!!

  7. 9
    Mark Lane

    This is certainly not the way you do business stealing from another company’s idea or brand. I am honored to have a customer like Peace Tree who does business lawfully and with integrity and is customer focused. You have a great product and I’m very proud of your success. I would not entertain doing business with a company that has no integrity.

    One word of advise is if you have a competitor or supplier enter your facilities require they sign a Confidentiality Non-Disclosure Agreement. They will think twice about the consequences if they signed this document.

    All the best and continued success with your company.

    Mark Lane

  8. 10
    No coast jj

    Hey team peace tree. As my wife can attest I have been a fan of your products for some time. However we are in unrelated industries. You gallantly attempt to put people to sleep, while I take a much much more direct approach and attempt to choke m’f’ers to sleep. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has iconically been a coastal martial art. I opened No Coast Bjj in May 2015 with no knowledge of your product but I feel that our products embrace the same ideal without competing at all. Hit me up at nocoastbjjiowa@gmail.com

  9. 12
    Kevin

    I personally think you brushed right by Moon Man a little quickly. No Coast is for sure on the label. Why even mess with it? i’d be cautious of the high horse on this one.

  10. 13
    Joe C

    So I did a Google search on Mahaska Bottling, the owner of the new brewery that is ripping off the No Coast brand. Mahaska is not a small local bottler of Pepsi products. They are a behemoth corporation controlling/distributing soft drinks from California to New York and a large section of the midwest. The ceo is a wall streeter with no ties to Iowa, with his own website brandenmuhl.com. To me this appears to be another example of big business like Inbev and SAB Miller trying to bully the small craft beer competition.

  11. 14
    Blair

    It’s the name of a bottle in your line…Sounds like you went too close for comfort in naming your select bottle in the first place. NoCoast isn’t your companies identity. Agree with Kevin on this one and be cautious of the high horse. Sounds like karma is you ask me.

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