City of Calgary allows sale of Fort Calgary beer until supply runs out
A battle brewing between two craft beer makers and the City of Calgary, is over.
A compromise has been reached between Elite Brewing, Bow River Brewing and the City of Calgary that would allow the breweries to sell the remaining stock of their Fort Calgary ISA brew, but the breweries are no longer allowed to use the Fort Calgary name moving forward.
City officials met with the brewers on Wednesday to discuss a cease and desist order issued earlier this year over the use of the name of one of the city’s historic landmarks which is trademarked.
“They’ll be selling the product until the end of the run, which we anticipate to take maybe a month or so,” said Richard Hynes, director of business and local economy with the city.
“From the City of Calgary point of view, the business will carry on, they’ll be able to sell their product, and Calgarians will get a chance to enjoy some great beer.”
Any leftover beer will be stripped of the Fort Calgary name on July 30. The brewers said they have about 44 cases remaining.
Following the meeting, both brewers said they believe the request from the city was reasonable.
“I think it was a positive meeting in that we can sell our beer that we have left,” Bow River Brewing owner Ian Binmore said.
“I do think the city is interested in seeing businesses succeed with elected officials working towards that end. I still think we had the legal high ground but it’s not worth pursuing that.”
WATCH: Craft brewery handed cease and desist over ‘Fort Calgary’ beer. Adam MacVicar reports.
Elite Brewing and Bow River Brewing got together in January to produce the beer, which was released in February to be sold at the two breweries in cans and kegs.
According to the brewers, the name was chosen following a Facebook contest to combine Elite Brewing’s military history theme and Bow River Brewing’s Calgary roots.
The brewers said they reached out to Fort Calgary for permission to use the name.
According to the brewers, the organization sent an email giving them permission to use the Fort Calgary name on the conditions they stopped advertising and release a statement stating the new brew wasn’t affiliated with Fort Calgary.
In March, the city sent a cease and desist to Elite Brewing, threatening a lawsuit if they continued to sell the beer without re-branding it.
The city is chalking the situation up to a misunderstanding.
“It’s really a miscommunication about the trademark,” Hynes said. “So when we had a chance to sit down and have that conversation, there was an agreement that after this run, they won’t be using Fort Calgary in their branding anymore.”
Hynes said the city is open to working with local businesses who want to use Calgary trademarks and suggested any interested businesses contact city hall before moving forward with plans to use any City of Calgary-owned branding.
“We have to understand [what] the context is,” Hynes said. “It’s always about the branding that goes on. I think it’s a conversation in each and every instance, which this was as well.”
For Elite Brewing and Bow River Brewing, the situation with the city is a lesson learned.
“Several lessons,” Binmore said. “I think the biggest one is we want to meet with the city beforehand, very clearly and get any agreements in writing so that there’s not any confusion down the line.”