It’s been quite a brief but impactful journey for Brewdog, a self-styled “punk brewery.” The history starts with Brewdog first going after a pub in the UK over trademarks, getting a fair amount of backlash for it, and then having Brewdog ownership not only rescinding all the threats, but inviting the pub to collaborate on a gin together. As part of that whole episode, Brewdog promised to “do better” when it came to IP enforcement and even covered the pub’s legal costs. It was a nice story.
One which the brewery has by all accounts lived up to. Subsequent stories about them here dealt only with a strange attempt by the Estate of Elvis Presley trying to stop the brewery from trademarking a craft brew entitled Elvis Juice. Brewdog won that one, by the way.
And now again Brewdog is making news for itself by poking at a larger entity, but has once again managed to do it in such a human and awesome way that Aldi of all companies appears to be a willing participant in the fun. The whole thing started with Brewdog putting out an on-brand IPA beer entitled “Punk IPA.” From there, Brendan Palfreyman, an IP attorney that specifically focuses on the craft brew industry and is a fantastic follow on Twitter, picks up the back and forth when Aldi decided to poke the Brewdog.
Phase 1: Brewdog makes Punk IPA
Phase 2: Aldi makes Establishment IPA
Phase 3: Brewdog makes Yaldi IPA
Phase 4: ? pic.twitter.com/zvq5FKBMzs
— Brendan Palfreyman Esq. (@B_Palfreyman) August 20, 2020
Yeah, this is actually happening. Consider the back and forth here for a moment. Brewdog makes a Punk IPA in a blue can. Aldi decides to release a Establishment IPA in a blue can, one that harkens specifically to Brewdog’s. Rather than go full IP lawyer-rage, Brewdog takes the whole thing in stride and announces the release of an IPA called Yaldi, which mimicks Aldi’s branding. The whole thing is enough to make an IP maximilist keel over and die from an embolism.
And, yet, no trademark threats. The only mention of a cease and desist comes from a third party that has a Yaldi brand beer. Aldi never gets in on the threats. Instead, the game continues.
We would have gone with ALD IPA, send us a crate and we’ll talk? https://t.co/seFaTVmRlv
— Aldi Stores UK (@AldiUK) August 20, 2020
Take notice: this is a major brand basically showing a brewery a better way to create an homage to its own brand. IP maximilists they are not. And, because the folks at Brewdog are apparently made of that old craft brewing DNA, where you treat this business with equal amounts reverence and irreverence, all while maintaining a sense of humor… they did as Aldi requested.
Deal @AldiUK 🙂
— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) August 21, 2020
Aldi’s response? It said it’s looking forward to getting a case of ALD IPA and might even clear some aisle space for it. In other words, there might actually end up being a lucrative business deal coming out of this whole thing.
And what’s really striking in all of this is just how easily this whole thing could have gone ass up if anyone on either side had decided to play IP fun-police rather than act so human and cool about this whole thing. Brewdog could have gotten pissed at an obvious knockoff beer at Aldi and tried to threaten the grocery chain. It didn’t. Aldi could have decided that Brewdog’s retort was a bridge too far and tried to threaten the brewery. It didn’t.
Instead, we might have a business deal in the works. One wonders if this will get the rest of the craft beer industry to pay the slightest bit of attention so it can go back to its old, better ways.