Reconnected VTHopHead.com and …

Reconnected VTHopHead.com and my Twitter account… @vthophead

Rock Art Wins “Monster” Battle!

Late in the day on Wednesday Rock Art Brewery, makers of “The Vermonster” beer, and Hansen Beverage Company, makers of Monster energy drinks, reached an agreement that will allow Rock Art to continue to use the name “Vermonster” for its beer, so long as it stays out of the energy drink market.

Matt Nadeau, Rock Art owner, is ecstatic, but is still adamant that there needs to be additional trademark reform that would prevent similar situations (big corporation bullies abusing the small business owners) from happening in the future.

The month-long battle was fought on two fronts… Rock Art and the lawyers fighting the legal battle against Hansen in the courts and the very public battle waged on-line and in the media by craft brewers and other concerned individuals. Hansen had their hands full on both fronts. It quickly became evident, to many, that Hansen’s legal pursuit of the Vermontster name was probably not going to hold up in court and, perhaps more significantly, Hansen’s reputation as a beverage manufacturer began to take a real beating in the marketplace as beverage retailers, distributors and tens of thousands of everyday consumers rallied against Hansen’s efforts against Rock Art.

Stay tuned for an official statement from Rock Art at their Web site… http://www.rockartbrewery.com/

It’s nice to see the little guy win for a change… and justifiably so! Thanks everyone for your help in winning this epic battle against “evil”!!

#880 – Long Trail Imperial Porter

One their new “Brewmaster & Limited Edition Series”. Like many quality craft brewers these days, Long Trail has created this growing collection of “premium beers” for those looking for stepped up quality . The series currently includes their “Coffee Stout”, “Double IPA” and this “Imperial Porter”. Now the details…

Pours a very dark black/brown in color with a small tan head that faded to a thin covering over the beer. Some minor lacing on the glass. Aroma is heavy with darkly roasted malts, coffee, toffee/caramel and chocolate. Flavor is a really nicely balanced mix of roasted grains, slightly bitter coffee, creamy caramel and chocolate. Thick and chewy texture. Finish is lingering, medium bitter with dark roasted malts. Alcohol not apparent. This is really good!!

Everything I would have expected from a truly “premium” beer from a quality Vermont brewer. The “Double IPA” was also excellent and I can hardly wait to find the “Coffee Stout”.

SKoenemann HopPress Blog is alive!

I have been fortunate enough to be selected, along with a short list of other beer bloggers, to blog for the RateBeer Web site (www.ratebeer.com). RateBeer is one of the leading authorities on all things “beer” and I am very excited about this opportunity.

RateBeer has created a special site, called The HopPress, for all of these bloggers to post to. My personal HopPress blog can be found at koenemann.hoppress.com. Occasionally, links to selected posts from these beer bloggers will appear on the RateBeer home page.

Check it out!

Rock Art Vermontster vs. Monster Energy Drinks… silly…

On September 14, just six days before his birthday, Matt Nadeau, owner of Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, received an unusual email. Attached to it was a PDF full of legalese in which an attorney for the Hansen Beverage Company — maker of Monster brand energy drinks — demanded that the Vermont brewery “cease and desist” its use of the name “Vermonster” for a high-test barley wine. “Your client’s use and registration of the Vermonster in connection with beer will undoubtedly create a likelihood of confusion and/or dilute the distinctive quality of Hansen’s Monster marks,” the document reads. Nadeau was given two weeks to respond.

Nadeau, who holds the “Vermonster” trade name in Vermont, thinks the letter was probably triggered by his application to trademark it nationally. “I don’t get those people out there in California,” he says. Given that Nadeau sells about 95 percent of his beer “within 50 miles of Morrisville,” the feisty brewer says he fails to see how giving a single product a name that’s a play on its home state could damage a massive corporation making a completely different type of beverage.

So Nadeau called to offer a concession: He would promise to stay out of the energy-drink biz if Hansen stayed out of brewing. No luck. “Their third-party lawyer … believes they’ll likely pursue lawsuits and [proceedings against] trademark infringement,” Hansen says.

Simply continuing to pursue his trademark application against Monster’s opposition could cost Nadeau up to $15,000. And he’s willing to take the matter to court — an even pricier proposition — if necessary, he says. For one thing, five trademark lawyers located all over the country have told him he’ll probably win in the end. More importantly, adds the brewer, it’s a matter of principle: “They have no morals,” he says of the beverage giant. “They think, We’re just gonna steamroll it … We’ll take this little Vermont company and squash them. Well, sorry.”

You decide…

Rock Art Brewery Vermontster
Rock Art Brewery Vermontster

Monster Energy

Clipper City Heavy Seas – The Great Pumpkin Imperial Ale

Pours a nice “pumpkin” amber in color with a very small whitish head that fades to almost nothing… low carbonation. Aroma is slightly sweet and almost all pumpkin spice (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon,etc.) and nothing else. Flavor is a bit more complex. Some pumpkin, spices ( as noted) and a bit of harsh, unpleasant alcohol character. Slightly bitter and astringent at the end. Lingering bitterness with little else.

Heavy Seas Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Heavy Seas Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Downeast Maine and Coastal New Hampshire…

My wife (Candy) and I recently took some time to return to one of our favorite regions… the Greater Portland Maine and Portsmouth NH areas. The weather was not that great, so we “had” to spend some time in some of my favorite watering holes… not that I’m complaining, mind you. On the list were the Great Lost Bear and Three Dollar Dewey’s in Portland as well as the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth. All off these establishments offer many taps (GLB has 65), plenty of local beers (Portsmouth is all their own, of course) and offer “sample paddles”, to reduce the collateral damage of trying so many new brews… I have fortunately married a “designated” driver, thank goodness . They all three also have great food to go along with the beer! Below are pictures and links to their sites…

Three Dollar Deweys In "Old Port", Portland, ME
Three Dollar Deweys In “Old Port”, Portland, ME
The Great Lost Bear
The Great Lost Bear
The Portsmouth Brewery
The Portsmouth Brewery

“Massive”… it’s the only way to describe it…

I just finished a bottle of Weyerbacher Thirteen… their 13th anniversary Imperial Stout. At 13.6% ABV… it’ll *rock* you!! Picked this up at Downeast Beverage during a brief foray to Portland, Maine last week. The details…

Pours a very dark black/brown in color with a medium dark tan head that stuck around to produce some nice lacing on the glass. Aroma is sweet and heavy with dark fruits, coffee and chocolate. Flavor is a bit sweet and fruity (raisins, prunes) to start, but the bitterness of the hops and the dark roasted malts quickly fills in. Lingering sweet and then bitter finish with chocolate and coffee dominating at the very end. Some alcohol, as you might expect with a beer of this strength, but is is not overpowering and fits in pretty well with the rest of the flavor profile. Very complex… Really good…

Definitely worth repeating… yummy!