CraftWorks responds to cease and desist rumors

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(Lyons, CO) – The saga over Gordon Knight’s good name takes a strange turn.


If you pay close attention to the beer world, you probably heard that Oskar Blues changed the name of its Gordon Ale to G’Knight after receiving a cease and desist order from the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group. Some connected the dots to Gordon Biersch’s new ownership group, CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc., after a story emerged that the new owners were making significant changes, perceived to be negative within the beer community, at the Rock Bottom chain.

CraftWorks’ response on the Gordon matter appeared in a post on The Brewing Network forums soon thereafter. CraftWorks says in the statement attached below that the cease and desist came after Oskar Blues reneged on a previous agreement.

After all that, a reader might think that these companies are not on the best terms but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Not only are the companies working together but Oskar Blues just made a beer, Deviant Dale’s Pale Ale, exclusively for one of CraftWorks’ properties, Old Chicago. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

[Note: this blog is outed along with others in the reply below. Though I did contact Oskar Blues and Gordon Biersch (hmm, the brewery or the restaurants? now THAT’s where the name confusion comes in), mentioning CraftWorks at all in the post meant that I should’ve contacted them as well for comment before running the story. Remember, journalists and bloggers, to dot every I and cross every T.]

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BEGIN RESPONSE
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I understand your consternation over the information you probably received from the blog postings below. Let me assure you that, as is often the case with the internet, they are relatively devoid of facts and context.

http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/3299175

http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2 … kar_bl.php

http://beerpulse.com/2011/01/gordon-bier … s-for-usin

While it is true that Dan Gordon, a founder of Gordon Biersch, has asked Oskar Blues to change the name of the beer “Gordon” it is a little more involved than the Beer Advocate posting would imply. Oscar Blues came out with a single beer named “Gordon,” in memory of the late brewer Gordon Knight, in 2002. Dan Gordon has been producing German Lagers and Hefeweizen with the name Gordon Biersch on the label since 1988. Dan asked Oskar Blues to change their beer name to “Knight” or some other moniker that consumers would not confuse with his beer for years. They had settled on a verbal agreement that Oskar Blues would not sell the brand “Gordon” in states where Gordon Biersch is distributed, which did not include Oskar Blues’ home state of Colorado. Oskar Blues did not hold up their end of the bargain and that is why legal action was taken.

Please keep in mind that all businesses have the right and obligation to protect their trademarks. We have received cease and desist letters over the years for beer names such as “Summer Fest” and have always complied out of respect for our brewing brethren, if in fact they had the name before us. This includes the most respected craft breweries in the country, there is no resentment, it is simply good business.

http://brewpublic.com/beer-news/merger- … t-brewers/

As far as the post on the “Brewpublic” blog which asserts that Gordon Biersch is forcing Rock Bottom brewers to all make the same beers, that is simply false and frankly bizarre. Management and Brewers from both companies have the utmost admiration and respect for each other and the beers we produce, as well as the people who enjoy them. We acknowledge that we do many things differently, but we embrace those differences and would never take any action to jeopardize the quality, variety or consistency of our beer.

That said any merger is like a marriage, meaning there will be some changes and compromises and we are still trying to figure out what those might be. There has been some discussion of developing a few consistent core brands at Rock Bottom, as we have at Gordon Biersch, but by no means would that entail restricting the “freedom” of the Rock Bottom brewers to create and serve their wide variety of award winning styles, from mainstream to extreme. There also seems to be some misunderstanding of what we do in the brewery at Gordon Biersch. True all GB breweries produce the same five classic German styles, all of which have won GABF and World Beer cup medals, but we also allow our brewers to come up with their own more “out there” interpretations of German biers. Last year we received GABF medals for Rauchbier and Eisbock and we are currently producing Imperial Pilsners and Sticke Alt beers as well.

I implore you to keep on open mind about what “Craft Beer” is and who defines it. We have 68 hard working brewers whose livelihoods and families depend on the wisdom of beer connoisseurs such as yourself not to let be led astray by the self appointed “experts.” Like beer, information is best when it is obtained fresh at its source. So let them chatter all they want, we will continue making some of the best beer you can find on the planet in hopes that you will appreciate imbibing it as much as we appreciate your patronage.

Prost,

Kelly Wilson
Director of Marketing – Brewery Restaurant Group and Specialty Concepts
CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.
423-424-2021

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11 thoughts on “CraftWorks responds to cease and desist rumors

  1. I received a similar reply after contacting CrafWorks. I certainly didn’t expect they’d craft a unique, personalized response to every e-mail that came in, but some of the cutting and pasting left me wondering how closely Ms. Wilson reviewed my message. For example, I said nothing about whether Gordon Biersch is or is not “craft beer,” nor did I imply that companies should not protect their trademarks when there is a clear infringement at play.

    The bottom line is I still do not agree with Gordon Biersch that there is any likelihood of consumer confusion here, and therefore I believe their objections over a beer called “Gordon” are unfounded. Period.

  2. How would this apply to states that had Oskar Blues before Gordon Biersch? Here in Florida I believe GB has been here for less than a year while OB has been for a number of years.

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  6. I agree with Brad’s response. @Mike Not sure when Oskar Blues showed up in Florida but Gordon Biersch has had their restaurant in Miami for over 7 years now. Definitely not my favorite beer but the food is good.

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