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Don't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em: Why Brewing Together Works Better in the Craft Beer Industry

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This story appears in the September 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Old Foghorn is a killer name for a stout from the coast of Northern California, thought Lenny Mendonca, who made the part of his lineup when he opened Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. in 2000. In short order, a letter arrived informing the fledgling brewer that Fritz Maytag's Anchor Brewing Co. already owned the evocative name. A senior partner at management consulting firm & Company, Mendonca knew the drill—the legal chain of events that occurs when one infringes on a competitor's trademark. He received a letter. But it was not what he expected.

Courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Drinking buddies: Sierra Nevada Brewing founder Ken Grossman (right) and son Brian, co-manager at the company’s Mills River, N.C., brewery.

"It was a personal letter from Fritz—not a letter from his lawyers—suggesting we find another name and wishing us luck," says Mendonca, who came to understand that Maytag's collegial, low-key style was the rule among the craft-beer brethren.

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