Craft Beer Names Prove Challenging

“Bottoms Up!” a common toast, can be heard around the world on a frequent basis. One of the reasons is because beer is the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage, and also the third most consumed beverage overall, after tea and water. According to Nielsen Scarborough, more than 110 million people in the United States alone drink it. In 2015, U.S. beer reached about 197 million barrels and $105.9 billion in sales.

While beer has been around for ages, the craft beer trend has changed the dynamics of the beer industry. According to the Brewer’s Association, the number of craft breweries rose from 2,401 in 2012 to 4,225 in 2015. Craft beer production is expected to increase yearly with 25.4 million barrels in 2015 to an estimated 37.4 million in 2020. Craft brewing accounted for 12.2% of share in the beer industry in 2015 and grew 12.8% to reach $22.3 billion. This growth rate is significant as overall beer sales only increased by 0.2%.

The top five leading craft beer brands in 2015 included Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Shiner, and Lagunitas. While these are established craft beers that are widely known, the proliferation of craft breweries adds more craft beer brands to the mix. The trend is so popular that people are crafting beer from home, with an estimated 1.2 million home brewers. As a result, the number of different flavors available today is astounding. With these new flavors and brands comes the task of creatively naming them. However, the large number of breweries and new beers present challenges in the industry.

Too often, craft breweries find themselves in the midst of a trademark battle over a name. What they thought was a fun and creative name that would help consumers associate with a particular brand and flavor often becomes a legal nightmare. The more the craft brewing industry expands, the more likely trademark issues will continue. Many trademark conflicts involve geographic names or brewing terms that have already been used or that may cause confusion. Therefore, craft brewers have to be especially inventive in a crowded space.

While creating unique flavors gives each brewery a competitive edge, creating a unique name is proving to be a challenging task. However, without a creative name, craft breweries will find it difficult to gain recognition. Therefore, they must think outside the box to come up with as interesting names as they do flavors.