RIP Dark and Stormy Night, says Picaroons
Popular beer being put to rest after Fredericton craft brewery loses legal battle over infringement
It was a dark and stormy day for fans of Picaroons Dark and Stormy Night beer.
The Fredericton-based craft brewery announced through social media it's putting the popular organic dark wheat beer "to rest" after losing a lengthy legal battle with another company over trademark infringement.
The Facebook post does not name the other company, but Picaroons Traditional Ales owner Sean Dunbar confirmed it's liquor giant Goslings.
"It's one of those things that happens occasionally in business," he told CBC News.
"There's only so many names people can come up with, I guess. So sometimes they crowd in on each other."
Dunbar contends the beer name came from a Peanuts comic strip reference.
But Picaroons received a cease and desist order from Goslings, saying the beer infringed on its Dark 'n Stormy cocktail, made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum and Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer.
"We tried, you know, saying 'Please,'" Dunbar said. "We tried arguing that the two products really didn't have anything to do with each other."
But Goslings wasn't swayed.
Picaroons said in its Facebook post that the brew at the centre of the dispute had been in production for 11 years.
"We certainly did not go out without a fight, though after months and months we've officially lost the battle and are now retiring our lightest dark beer."
Dunbar said the company worked with a local trademark lawyer and "would have loved to defend it to the hilt," but decided taking it all the way to court wasn't worth the expense.
"Good bye old friend," the Facebook post said. "RIP."
Once whatever is left on the taps and on shelves is sold, that will be the end — at least for now, said Dunbar.
He didn't rule out the possibility of reviving the recipe under new branding, but he wants to sell out first. He doesn't want to have the beer for sale under two different names at the same time, he said.
In the meantime, news of the beloved beer's demise spread quickly.
"It's unfortunate," said Chris Chamberlain, who stopped into the Picaroons General Store in Saint John to buy a growler. "It was a good brew."
Paul Farren also decided to stock up.
"I just bought a whole box of 16 and I'll probably go to a liquor store before I go home," he said.
"Got a beer fridge in the basement, so I'll have to conserve it. … Only specific people will be worthy."
More than 200 people commented within two hours of the Picaroons Facebook posting.
"Nooooooo!!" wrote Chris Green.
"Uuuuuuughhhhhhh!" wrote Denise Dow.
Nancy Boutcher offered a "gasp."
Steve Fudge called it "most disappointing" and Adam Lanto said he is "genuinely heartbroken."
"It will be missed!" wrote Aaron Guravich.
A few people offered suggestions for rebranding. Stormy Dark Night, Stark and Dornish Night, Dark and Snarly and Dim and Windy Hours were just a few of the ideas.
Steven Lewis had a different take.
"'Cease and desist' is a good name for a beer," he wrote.
With files from Matthew Bingley