A spat between two Oregon breweries over an allegedly stolen slogan erupted on social media yesterday, leading one company to challenge the other to a boat race to settle the matter.
On Tuesday, Corvallis-based Flat Tail Brewing posted a photo on social media of an orange-and-black semi-trailer, stamped with the logos for both Oregon State University and originally Bend-based 10 Barrel Brewing and bearing the phrase "Dam Good Beer"—a tagline Flat Tail brewmaster and co-owner, Dave Marliave, says they've used for almost a decade.
"It's no secret you can steal a lot of intellectual property when you've got that sweet, sweet @anheuserbusch money," Marliave wrote under the photo, referring to 10 Barrel's parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, "but seriously @10barrelbrewing …..did you have to drive it past our brewhouse?! Can't wait to get a cease and desist for using my own slogan."
Marliave also posted a photo of the Flat Tail team giving the finger while proudly displaying the catchphrase on a banner.
A short time later, 10 Barrel issued a response on Flat Tail's Instagram page, claiming it was unaware the slogan was taken and explaining it's a reference to the brewery's partnership with Oregon State University. They also offered to put the catchphrase on the line in a boat race:
“@flattailbrewing, we had no idea you guys were using this tagline. We’re just stoked on our new partnership with @oregonstate, guess great minds think alike J. Although, your photo and post doesn’t inspire community, our founders and Beaver alum have come up with a couple ideas as solutions; our founders will challenge your best drinkers to a boat race, winner gets the slogan. Our we can change out the graphics to something for fitting for us like #dambetterbeer #beavershouldworktogether #whyoldguyflipusoff #nexttimecallus #wewouldhavechangedit #notnow”
"It was the perfect response," Marliave tells WW. "They admit it's our slogan, insult our beer and make fun of one of our employees for being old. It was a fruit salad of, 'What the fuck?'"
Marliave then fired back with a litany of criticisms predominantly aimed at Anheuser-Busch, including accusing the company of ageism for insulting one of its older team members.
"Don't pretend to be the good guys while literally ransoming our own slogan back to us," he wrote.
10 Barrel—which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2014 and operates a brewpub in Northwest Portland—issued a comment to WW, though Marliave says he has not had any additional correspondence with them.
"While we were joking about the Boat Races, rest assured that we're currently working with OSU and our wholesaler to swap out the graphics on the trucks in Corvallis," Andy Goggins, 10 Barrel's director of marketing says. "We invite the Flat Tail team to join the 10 Barrel team for a beer in the near future. #gobeavs."
Marliave tells WW says he's not interested in pursuing legal action against 10 Barrel—the slogan is not trademarked and used by a few other breweries across the country—but would rather use the incident as an opportunity to critique corporations like Anheuser-Busch, which continue to acquire smaller breweries.
"It has nothing to do with the slogan. It's about the companies and what they're doing with the money we're giving them," Marliave says. "Frankly, I'm glad they responded the way they did so that we can highlight what these huge conglomerates are doing."
As for 10 Barrel's offer to see who's the fastest sailor, any beer fans hoping for that showdown on the water shouldn't hold their breath.
"I read that and just laughed," says Marliave.