Two beers or not two beers?

What’s in a name?  Plenty according to the Troegner brothers of Troegs Brewery in Harrisburg.  The craft beer brewers are seeking to stop a small Bethlehem brewery from selling beer with a similar name.

Walk into your local beer outlet in December and you’re likely to find Troegs holiday special beer called The Mad Elf.  But in certain areas, you may also find Rude Elf’s Reserve, a winter seasonal distributed by Fegley Brew Works in Bethlehem.  Now, The Mad Elf is furious.

According to documents filed with the Patent and Trademark Office, Troegs has filed a petition of cancellation of Fegley’s trademark for Rude Elf’s, claiming the naming similarities confuse customers.

Whether the case has merit is still to be determined, but local brewing insiders say that might be beside the point. 

“To be producing a strong, high end holiday style winter Belgian ale is not a huge market.  And that’s why I think the real core audience for that product is not really confused by it,” said George Hummel, owner of Home Sweet Homebrew in Center City.

Rude Elf’s Reserve has a history of naming trouble.  The beer was originally marketed as Rudolph’s Reserve before a cease and desist letter from the owners of the trademarked ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ forced the change.

The Troegner brothers did not return calls seeking comment, and Fegley’s owner Jeff Fegley declined to be interviewed.

There are other elves in the market.  Ridgeway Brewing of England, imported by Shelton Brothers of–no joke–Belchertown, Massachusetts, sells Bad Elf, Very Bad Elf, Seriously Bad Elf, Insanely Bad Elf, and Criminally Bad Elf ales.

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