Lagunitas IPA

Lagunitas IPALagunitas IPA 6.2% ABV
India Pale Ale
Lagunitas Brewing Company

We’ve been writing about beer for over a year now. With each beer I drink, I feel that I am further away from being an expert since as soon as I think I know what’s going on, I’m completely surprised again.

I’ve had over 65 IPAs per Untappd. Lagunitas is a national brand. I have one of their dog-faced mason glasses. Of course, I’ve had their IPA. Who hasn’t?

Imagine my surprise when Untappd’s suggested beers listed pulled up the Lagunitas IPA and suggested it to me. No way. But, sure enough, I couldn’t recall actually trying it and, if it ain’t Untappd’d, it didn’t happen.

Wow. I’m used beers being hyped as being a defining beer in a style, but I’m truly impressed with this one. It’s oh-so-common to throw hops into an IPA until we’re past Warp 10 on the IBU scale, I forget that you can have a hoppy IPA that isn’t a kick in the face. Coming in just over 45 IBUs, this is hardly without a second look on that metric. Taking a nice sip, it is a wonderful IPA.

Lagunitas has taken their punches recently over the now-withdrawn trademark dispute against Sierra Nevada over the way to stylize “IPA” on a label. While I’m not a fan of legal action and not always a fan of the actions of any particular company’s owner, I do respect Lagunitas for their actions.

Stay with me. With trademarks, it is important to enforce them for two reasons: most importantly, they exist as consumer protection. If you honestly think there would be consumer confusion as to what is your product and what belongs to a competitor, you should work it out. Directly with the company first, if possible, or through other means if necessary. Secondly, if you don’t enforce your trademark, at some point, you won’t be able to since there will be so much brand confusion out there already, it doesn’t matter.1.

In their case, they went the second route: to court. What they did next, though, was respectable. They stated their action on Twitter. Defended it. Then listened.

Lagunitas vs Sierra NevadaOutside of their brewery, I’m not sure if anyone agreed with their complaint. Virtually no one thought there would be brand confusion between Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada over the IPA labels (see right).

On Twitter, between folks politely disagreeing to outright demonizing Lagunitas, public opinion was beyond clear. This was absurd.

Listening to the feedback, the next day, Lagunitas announced they were dropping the complaint.

In the end, who would have won? I have no idea. The “IPA”s do seem what similar in appearance, but enough for a court to side with Lagunitas?

In either case, while the decision was made to get out of the tomato-line-of-fire and self-serving, I still found it respectable that the company acted so quickly to realize they were out of line within the craft beer community.

They aren’t saints and I’m sure you could provide plenty of examples where Lagunitas deserves worse; however, I’m willing to let things stay in the past. Both Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas makes incredible beers, namely my shut-up-and-take-my-money Neomexicanus favorite from Sierra Nevada. With beers on tap like their IPA, Lagunitas can have a second (or third, or fourth) chance.

  1. I’m not a lawyer but I did take a semester of law review in 7th grade and a constitutional law freshman seminar. That’s pretty close. Right, Brian? 

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