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Like many aspiring brewers, Matt Nadeau started brewing beer at home – in his basement in fact – honing his craft before eventually growing that hobby into an exciting microbrewery venture in Vermont, New England.

Rock Art Brewery now employs himself, his wife and seven others, all busy mashing and marketing innovative heavy-hopped beers for American microbrew lovers. But now Matt is subject to a cease and desist nuisance order from a billion dollar corporation and overnight his business aswell as the livelihoods of his employees are suddenly at stake.

Hansen blends the MONSTER brand energy soft drink in California, is worth over a billion and has global distribution agreements
Matt brews a 10% ABV anniversary barley wine called Rock Art Vermonster for a small loyal customer base

There is clearly no brand infringement case here, but in US law a cash-rich company like Hansen can appeal court verdicts repeatedly until the smaller company that is often in the right, can no longer pay up the $65k a time it takes to fund those court appearances.

We realise that UK pubs and breweries are having the rugs pulled out from under them every day, and quite rightly these issues feel closer to home because they affect us more directly. Like many of you, we do what we can to support local breweries and our community pub. We even remember to pay our fees to CAMRA and force ourselves to drink more than we probably ought to at its festivals. But we couldn’t help feeling frustrated by Hansens’ treatment of this New England microbrewer and thought we’d share. It’s, well, its just not an obstacle the guy would have thought about while brewing in his basement – like us, he was probably more concerned that he’d remembered to switch all his taps off.

If we were American, we’d say the situation sucked big time. As Brits, we still think it’s a poor show, and hope you’ll join us in supporting Rock Art brewers – they need your clicks and emails, even if we can’t place beer orders from outside the US. Shame.




****UPDATE : 22nd October 2009****
We’re delighted to say that for once sense prevailed and Rock Art won this round of the battle against corporate America. It’s all official, The Vermonster is free, and everyone can stop writing to Hansen and get back to their beers. Good stuff.

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