Young and Hungry

A True Monster Attacks Rock Art Brewery – Can Twitter and Facebook Help?

save kokopelli CROPPEDIf you follow brews news like we do, you have probably caught wind of the David-and-Goliath story unfolding between Vermont's Rock Art Brewery and Monster energy drinks. It seems that Hansen Beverage Company, makers of the Monster line, believe that consumers will be confused by the use of the word "monster" in Rock Art's 10th Anniversary Ale, the Vermonster, and have demanded that Rock Art stop selling and advertising the beer.

How anyone could confuse this with this is beyond us, but it seems that as Monster explores the world of alcoholic beverages, they are looking to squash all perceived competition, even when that "threat" is a nine-person operation in rural Vermont. The Lagerheads' response: truly scary, but it doesn't really sound like what a natural beverage company would do.

When we started hearing about the conflict over the past week, we recalled the similar struggle that Dogfish Head Brewery and Anheuser-Busch had over the use of the words "punkin" and "chicory" several years ago. It turns out that there is more than just a haunting connection between the two stories. The same majority market-share-holding brewing giant that came after Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head happens to distribute Monster energy drinks. A true monster strikes again. More details after the jump.

The most obvious person to make this connection, Beer Wars filmmaker Anat Baron, posted about it on her blog yesterday. At the heart of her film is the struggle between what she calls "corporate behemoths" and small, independent craft breweries. In Beer Wars, she attempts to reveal to consumers the cutthroat practices the brewing industry's big three, Anheuser-Busch (now owned by Belgian giant InBev), Miller and Coors (who have since merged), use to eliminate any and all competition. If you are interested in even more sordid details on the most recent example of said practices, has a timeline of events for the scuffle between Monster, Hansen, Anheuser-Busch, and Rock Art that goes back to 2007 (so get out your legal pad).

Angry calls to boycott Monster energy drinks and all Hansen products have been creeping and crawling all over the Twittersphere, and a video response from Matt Nadeau, who owns Rock Art Brewery with is wife Renee, popped up on YouTube yesterday. The video strays into a bit of a preachy, patriotic diatribe towards the end, but the sentiment is sincere. This guy needs help.

If you are an advocacy-type you can tweet and RT your little heart out on Twitter or join a Facebook group to show solidarity with the cause, but we're not sure how much good that will actually do. We'd suggest the obvious (not buying Anheuser-Busch or Hansen products and demanding that your friends don't either), but our guess is that if you are a Lagerheads follower you probably already abstain from Bud and energy drinks. However, you may be surprised what beverages fall under the Anheuser-Busch umbrella. We certainly are sometimes, so it might be interesting to take a look.

  • Mike

    Not to pile on a poor indy brewer, but has anyone pointed out the fact that "Vermonster" is also the name of Ben & Jerry's twenty-scoop abomination of a sundae?

    I would think Monster would need to get in line behind B&J's when it comes to brand confusion issues.

    Though maybe Monster may want to turn on Ben & Jerry's for offering that sundae more than a decade before they rolled out their energy dare they preemptively cause that kind of confusion?

  • Pingback: BC Law IPTF Blog » Blog Archive » Vermont Brewery Challenged by Monster Energy Drink in Trademark Dispute

  • JB

    I'm not sure B&J's will apply because there isn't any real grounds for confusion there. While I whole heartedly stand behind the little man, the difference between the ice cream and beer product is exactly that. No reasonable person could possibly confuse advertisements for the drink, with the ice cream.

    I think to bring a cause of action for similar sounding products, the actual product has to be similar enough so that you are conceived to be "stealing" someone's good name or reputation.

  • Brolivia

    That list of A/B brands is surprising!

    I think I also have some Sloan MP3's (circa 1993?) from a festival called Vermonster. Perhaps the college kids who put that on should hire lawyers too...

  • Pingback: Dr. Dremo’s is Coming Back to Clarendon - Young & Hungry - Washington City Paper

  • Shaughan

    The server speed of twitter is unbearable.