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Competition pushes local brewery to change its name

When it comes to clever puns with a Colorado flavor, great beer minds often think alike. Last year, Colorado was home to 175 craft breweries, according to the Brewers Association. Coming up with a unique name for each new brewery and subsequent new beer can be the most difficult part of the business.

Just ask Colby Rankin.

"It’s causing a couple problems, so we’re in the middle of a name change right now," Rankin said.

Just three months after opening Denver Pearl Brewing Company on Denver’s Pearl Street, Rankin has to drum up a new name, because two different companies are simultaneously picking it apart.

"We had a couple problems with another brewery in Denver that felt entitled to use of the word Denver within craft beer," Rankin said, though he wouldn’t specify which brewery made the call. He was more descriptive about the other manufacturer.

"Also, from Pabst down in San Antonio. They own the rights to Pearl," he said.

That means from the wood to the glass to the t-shirts, anything with a Denver Pearl stamp has to rebranded.

"With so many breweries out there, it’s incredibly difficult to find a name," Rankin said.

Studies from the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Brewers Assocation show there are more than 3,000 breweries across the country. An economist at the BA says roughly 500 will likely open this year — each with its own set of beer names.

When you factor in the big boys like Coors and Anheuser-Busch, the number of unused names, puns, nods and euphemisms starts to dwindle.

Over the last few years, naming disputes have become more common in the craft beer world. In May, Elevation Beer Company filed a complaint in federal court against Renegade Brewing Company for Renegade’s use of the word "elevation" as it relates to beer.

"We could have done a little more homework and stuff like that but you can worry about a lot of things every day. This was one thing that we didn’t think we would have to worry about,"’ Rankin said. He prefers to stay in the brewery and out of the courtroom, so, on Sept. 6, he plans to unveil a new name for his second round.

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