On July 17, Stone Brewing, the 9th largest craft brewery in the US, sent a Cease & Desist to Sawstone Brewing in Morehead, Kentucky demanding that it change its name.
We’ve long been a big supporters of Stone Brewing, and co-founders Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, but demanding that a small 3 barrel brewery that only sells its beer out their taproom, change its name, feels so wrong in so many ways, that we can’t help but be disappointed.
Founded in 2019, Sawstone Brewing was named after the limestone material that came from a local quarry and used in the building where the brewery is located. And the brewery would be celebrating its one year anniversary around now had COVID-19 not arrived.
Stone, which according to Brewbound, received a $90 million infusion from a venture capital firm in 2016, has an active litigation team.
In addition to their ongoing dispute with Molson Coors Keystone brand, which we’ve adamantly supported in the past, Stone is actively involved in a concerning number of other trademark battles around the country that challenge the sense of craft beer community that its founders once championed.
“As new members of the industry, we have felt welcomed with open arms,” Sawstone co-owner Blake Nickell told KSR…
“The brewing industry is unique in that most everyone, whether part of a small or large brewery, has a story that starts with small scale homebrewing and a passion for making and sharing good beer with others. Because of this, the sense of community is often put ahead of the competition in the industry.”
“Besides the financial hit of this, which could possibly end us due to our small size and the current events impacting the economy, we are more disheartened that another brewery with a passion for bringing great beer to all would result to bullying.”
Responding to mounting legal costs that couldn’t have come at a worse time with the coronavirus wreaking economic havoc on the beer industry, the brewery is asking its fans to help them fight this new kind of “David vs Goliath” battle…
We are a very small brewery, situated in the beautiful foothills of Eastern Kentucky. We opened our doors in August of 2019, with so much support from our local community, as well as the broader brewing community.
Earlier this year, we received a letter stating that Stone Brewing (located in Escondido, CA), filed a complaint concerning our name (Sawstone Brewing Co). Stone Brewing is the 9th largest craft brewery in the country. They claim that they own the word “stone,” and that our name infringes this viewpoint.
Our name “Sawstone,” was derived from the construction materials, from which our building is made — Sawed, Kentucky, limestone from a (since-closed) quarry down the road from our taproom.
Attorney’s fees have already added up, and there are more to come.
We want to stop Stone Brewing from their history of bullying smaller businesses around the country. We hate to ask our community for more help, but right now, we truly need it!
We have to stop these folks from bullying… They’ve lost their way!
We love you all so much, and greatly appreciate the support!
Let’s keep our local taproom, and prevent large corporations from shutting down the locals!!