Monumental Beer Works opened its doors in Grand Junction on March 19, 2020, but when the brewery expands with a second taproom and restaurant later this year, it will do so under a different name.
The brewery is currently undergoing a rebrand after being contacted about a trademark dispute on the word “monumental,” said Brian Fischer, co-founder and operations manager. The company, originally named for its proximity to the Colorado National Monument, will soon make its grand re-debut as Base Camp Beer Works.
Exactly how soon? It’s tough to tell, Fischer said. About two months ago, the brewery was informed it would need a new name. That’s when, after getting some legal advice, Fischer and his team decided to solicit branding ideas from fans. They received 500 suggestions, among them Base Camp Beer Works, which resonated with the brewery’s team.
“Finding names that aren’t taken is an extremely difficult task,” said Fischer. “We had a small group of angel investors when we opened. We referred to them from the beginning as our base camp. That’s always been part of our organization, but not publicly. We thought, how cool would it be to use the foundation of our business as our future as well?”
Perhaps fittingly, Fischer had to purchase the trademark for the name Base Camp from a defunct brewery in Oregon. Now the real work begins, he said, as the brewery needs to order new merchandise, glassware, keg wraps, can labels — “Everything you can imagine,” Fischer said — before it will be official.
“I have not done an estimate yet. But I’d imagine it’s in the tens of thousands (of dollars),” he said.
Trademark disputes have become increasingly common in the beer industry as the number of American breweries – and therefore beers produced – has exploded. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the trademark for “monumental” was filed in 2010 by Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria, Va., which brews a year-round offering called Monumental IPA. Several other Port City Brewing Co. beer names are also trademarked, including Metro Red, an IPA; Optimal, its witbier; and Downright, a pilsner, according to the U.S. trademark database.
Port City founder Bill Butcher told The Denver Post he was preparing for a ski trip to Breckenridge and researching breweries to check out while in the Centennial State when he stumbled across Monumental Beer Works.
“That concerned me because that’s the name of our flagship IPA,” Butcher said.
This isn’t the first time Butcher called another brewer about a trademark dispute, and even though Port City does not distribute to Colorado, he maintains locals recognize the brand because of its presence at the Great American Beer Festival. In 2015, Port City Brewing Co. earned the title of small brewer of the year, and Monumental IPA has medaled in the GABF competition multiple times.
“It’s the identity of our beer and our brewery,” Butcher said. “Most of the time we’ve been able to handle it amicably. This was one of those times.”
Fischer, for his part, isn’t dwelling on the past. Instead, he’s focused on opening a new, 3,000-square-foot location in Fruita, his hometown, that will serve Base Camp Beer Works brews alongside European and American pub fare, such as moules-frites, a Belgian staple. It’s expected to open this summer, and eventually Fischer will install a small brewing system there to turn out experimental recipes.
The Grand Junction brewery remains open, selling beer and what will soon be Monumental Beer Works collectors merch. And once the rebrand is complete, Base Camp Beer Works will celebrate with a party, Fischer said.
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