Last week TRVE Brewing was presented with a situation that could have ended miserably and litigiously, and with a situation we're seeing all too often nowadays in craft beer. Instead it looks to end with a long-lasting friendship and a mission of collaboration.
I received a phone call from another brewery miles and miles away from our home here in Denver. Austin, the brewer at Hammerheart Brewing in Lino Lakes, Minnesota left me a voicemail explaining that they also had a beer named Black Cascade, which they'd been brewing since their home-brew days.
In the voicemail, Austin spoke with an incredibly humble mien - even offering to change their name should we be dead set on them not using it. I wholeheartedly believe that this approach was a large part of why we were able to make an agreement based on a handshake, and will both be continuing to brew our respective Black Cascades. I'll elaborate on this further in a bit…
I managed to get Austin on the phone on Friday afternoon when walking home - a trip which takes about fifteen minutes on average. We began talking about our respective breweries, the state of the industry, and of course, a mutual appreciation for extreme metal. We bounced war stories back and forth about the stresses of opening breweries, compared recipe formulations, and discussed our breweries' respective ethea. Almost an hour later I hung up the phone, having sat on the stoop of my apartment continuing the conversation well after I'd arrived at home. By the end I'd felt true kinship with a person I'd never even met in the flesh.
The end result of our discussion, as I mentioned before, is a handshake agreement that we'll both continue brewing our respective Black Cascades, and that no harm will come of that. Our collective stance is that this industry is being infected with litigation. Why a bunch of breweries claiming to be humble, artisinal, community-oriented, small batch, blabbity blah need to sue each other is a mystery to both our breweries, but we're not going to be a goddamned part of it.
Another wonderful result of this phone call: I'm looking at airfare to Minneapolis to go brew with Hammerheart. Expect more news on a formal collaboration soon.
To lasting friendships, and to an industry that still has loads of potential if not polluted with greed and hypocrisy.