INTA Day 3: Make mine a Sam Adams.

To coincide with the five days of INTA’s 141stAnnual Meeting in Boston, we’ve been taking a look back through Boston’s rich history – sporting, commercial and academic – at some of the city’s most iconic brands, inventions and institutions, which have acted as a driving force for IP generation in Massachusetts and beyond. Today, we’ve gone south to Jamaica Plain, home of the Boston Beer Company and Samuel Adams Brewery, just a short walk away from Stony Brook Station.

The Boston Beer Company’s meteoric rise to popularity in the mid 1980s represents not only one of Boston’s great success stories, but marks the start of a proliferation of craft-beer companies in the US brewing industry.

This trend has seen consumers reaching less for mass-market drink brands, and turning increasingly to artisanal and locally-produced beverages, thirsty in their hunt for undiscovered and traditional brews, to such an extent that annual sales in craft beer are now estimated to account for almost a quarter of the total US beer market. 

Founded by Jim Koch, who comes from a long line of beer masters, the Boston Beer Company’s story is a tale of serendipity, hard graft and a passion for brewing in equal measures. 

The company’s website charts Koch’s discovery, in his father’s attic, of his great-great grandfather’s recipe for a beer, which he in turn reproduced in his own kitchen.  

A mere six weeks after it was officially launched, Koch’s first lager was voted “The Best Beer in America”, in the Great American Beer Festival’s Consumers Preference Poll, a prestigious award that the company has since won a number of times.

Whilst the subsequent success of the company can be linked primarily to the quality of its products and, to a certain extent, good timing, undoubtedly the company’s brand strategy – which comprises the traditional, historic, and innovative – plays a key role.

The company’s marketing inspiration draws on its close association with Boston – its first and arguably most famous lager, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, was named after the Founding Father, who was born in Boston in 1722, and entered politics after graduating from Harvard and a career in taxation. Adams was critical in the organisation of the Boston Tea Party, protesting against imposition of taxes by the British parliament, which colonialists had not elected. Attendees at INTA might get chance to wander down to the Boston Tea Party Museum – only a short walk from the convention centre by the Congress Street Bridge, and near to where the protest is thought to have taken place.

SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER has been registered as a trade mark by the Boston Beer Company, along with names featuring two other Founding Fathers, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ALE, and JAMES MADISON (a dark wheat ale). The company’s Patriot Brewer Collection has also featured a Thomas Jefferson ginger honey ale and a George Washington Porter. 

A quick look at the USPTO records also reveals a strong undercurrent of humour in the company’s branding, with registrations for THREE WEISS MEN and BREWLYWED ALE, amongst others. 

There is also a pending application for LOVE CONQUERS ALE, which may possibly taste sweeter than BREXIT hard cider, a brand the Boston Beer Company applied to register on 24 June 2016, the day after UK citizens voted to leave the EU.

However, whilst the BREXIT brand may have been well-placed in the company’s ANGRY ORCHARD stable, the application was quickly rejected, with the USPTO finding that BREXIT conveys a political message, and does not function as an indication of trade origin. The EUIPO has rejected applications for BREXIT by a number of third parties on similar grounds.