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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

What's A-B Up To?

This is a fascinating development:
Anheuser-Busch InBev has applied for a federal trademark for "314" -- the area code for much of metropolitan St. Louis -- as well as for the telephone prefixes of 13 other U.S. cities.... Besides St. Louis' 314, other area codes that A-B is seeking trademarks for: 412 (Pittsburgh), 305 (Miami), 619 (San Diego), 202 (Washington, D.C.), 602 (Phoenix), 704 (Charlotte), 702 (Las Vegas), 214 (Dallas), 415 (San Francisco), 216 (Cleveland), 303 (Denver), 615 (Nashville) and 713 (Houston).
The obvious question: why? Well, there's this:
Chicago-based brewery Goose Island, which A-B bought this year for $38.8 million, produces a wheat ale called 312, a nod to that city's area code.
Here's the moment where a good blogger would offer some insight into A-B's motives, but I have none. Goose Island's 312 is cool because it's a Chicago brewery, Chicagoans know that, and they appreciate the local nod. But a San Diego-specific Goose Island 619 wouldn't necessarily draw the delight of Arrogant Bastard fans. (To this point, I am not surprised A-B skipped "503.")

It also seems pretty absurd that A-B could hold the trademark, even in a very constrained context, to a number. But trademark law and I don't see eye to eye, so what I think is absurd and five dollars will buy you a nice pint of ale.


  1. Five years ago A-B created a series of regional beers based on suggestions from people who worked at regional breweries and the drinkers of the region. One of them, the dunkelweizen made only for distribution in Colorado, turned into a national product (the Michelob Dunkel Weisse, apparently RIP).

    And don't you wonder if they'd like to own (512)?


  3. I thought maybe they would market the beers the same way they regionalize other packaging (like team bottles at baseball stadiums). So for each area, have the same beer in it, but with that cities area code?

  4. Good God.

    Vegas and Phoenix with high transplant ratio and lack of cultural memory beyond 3 years will eat this up.

    I has a sad.

  5. 312 is a pretty good beer and while I don't like that InBev bought Goose Island, I'm glad that GI will at least get national distribution. Not sure casual drinkers in San Diego would know the 312 reference, but they would understand 619, so maybe that makes them more likely to buy it. I'll be interested to see if the recipe gets tweaked for each area code.

  6. This really is a fascinating development. I've also offered my thoughts on this news over at The Daily Pull:

  7. Goose Island puts out some excellent beers, but 312 is not one of them. For comparison, it's not as good as Widmer Hefe.
    I wouldn't be happy in San Diego if that's the first GI beer I got.


  8. Jesus. Bud should totally hire me if they need new ideas. I am NOT afraid to work for them.

    312 is one of the worst beers that Goose Island makes in the first place, so I'm not surprised it's a first tactic for Bud. I've had it and ironically had a guest review it for me just last week.

    If they bring that shit to Miami, it will totally bomb. Good luck in the 305. BTW I live in the 954, home of "The Hanging Chad" but I can still speak to 305 LOL.

  9. All we can do is keep fighting the fight and boycotting them at any expense. Me and my buddies throw a protest fest every year to remind people who is destroying to name of craft beer.


  10. because they are grasping at straws...

  11. I dedicate this song to BudweiserBev:

  12. oh, looks like someone else thought of that comment first. har

  13. Preventative trademark protection. Cheaper to buy them up now than to have to sue someone for using them later.