A few months ago, we received a Cease & Desist notice from lawyers representing Brewery Vivant from Grand Rapids, Michigan over our use of the name FarmHands (one word, plural), because they brew a beer called Farm Hand (two words, non-pluralized). The C&D stipulated that we were to no longer use the name FarmHands, or we would be sued for millions of dollars.
Generally speaking, Saison is a style of beer with roots firmly planted in the fields of Northern France and Belgium, a beer which was primarily brewed and consumed by… you guessed it, Farmhands. That’s why the name is so intuitive (not to mention beautifully in line with our identity as a small business: Tired Hands, HopHands, FarmHands… you get the picture). Go ahead, search for “farm hand” on Ratebeer.com. No less than three other breweries are currently using some combination of those two words to identify one of their beers… Some even distribute in America. As educated beer consumers, you would not have any trouble distinguishing one beer from another (not to mention the fact that none of these beers are available in the same geographic location). Marketplace confusion sucks, but we have never had that problem in our industry, because what we sell is necessarily unique to the producer. We’re not making widgets here, we are crafting an organic product that has inherent value beyond “branding.”
As an industry, we are heading down a gnarled and paranoiac path that will only serve to isolate our customers by truncating the creativity of fellow beer producers; effectively losing sight of what made this industry so great when I entered into it nearly a decade ago… Collaboration, camaraderie, and a sense of infinite exploration.
We have had an absolutely killer first year of business, and are deeply thankful to all of you who have helped make Tired Hands what it is today. That being said, our money is better spent paying our employees (20 and counting!) and brewing killer beer. That’s not to say that we didn’t spend any cash on this engagement; we spent almost $5,000 on defending our FarmHands. We exist for one very simple reason; to produce the best beer in the area. Localization still guides all that we do, which is why we are continuing to invest in our community via the construction of a new production brewery that will (hopefully) meet the local demand for our strange and beautiful beers of distinction and valor.
In the end, we will be retiring FarmHands on September 26th, 2013 to avoid a lawsuit from Vivant. Not the recipe, nor the fact that it is one of our most beloved house beers, just simply the name: FarmHands. We will be renaming it something… Not sure what yet, but it will be good and jive well with our identity.
Please join us on Thursday September 26th to celebrate the life of FarmHands and see it through to it’s next stage of existence. We’ll be selling pints of (the newly renamed) FarmHands for $3.33 (half the price of the Beast) from 4-8pm. Get out here and drink one of the most accurate representations of Saison in the area and mourn/celebrate with us. Thank you all for your continued support.
Any breweries out there want to brew The Light That Spills Out of the Hole In Your Head next?
Drink the yeast / Eat the rind,
Jean Broillet IV