The Feds Ordered Sixpoint to Shut Down ‘Hop Obama’

hop-obama-0209.jpgA tipster just forward an email that just went out to Facebook fans of Sixpoint Craft Ales alleging that the Federal Government raided the beer maker’s Red Hook headquarters recently forced the beer maker to shut down production of its popular ‘Hop Obama’ line started during campaign season. Even the Department of Homeland Security got involved, threatening to seize the brewery. Bummer: It may be the best beer we’ve ever tasted. (N.B. It’s Sixpoint Night at Barcade next week.)

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  • daveinbedstuy

    Is his a joke??

  • Maly

    It’s a bit early for an April’s fool?
    It sounds completely ridiculous.

  • im calling faux on this. viral marketing fer sure

    *r*

  • I think they may have been adding more than hops into the brewsky.

  • woah, woah, woah

    This thread is a distortion of the truth. The Feds ordered us to shut down the production of the beer, but they certainly didn’t raid us with guns and teargas like this post makes it sound.

    They sent a TTB rep down to the facility, and then later followed up with someone from the Dept of Homeland Security to make sure we weren’t doing anything funny. A cease and desist order was given, and we were required to surrender our labeling license and destroy all product that may have been in inventory.

    The point is there will be no more Hop Obama as the Feds have officially put the kabosh on it – its over.

  • daveinbedstuy

    And what were the reasons??

    Oh, sorry, stupid question.

    So does this have a lasting effect on the business or just the inventory loss?

  • Maly

    what is the reasoning behind the cease and desist order?

  • Thanks for the clarification. Seriously…best…beer…ever.

  • i call b.s. on this story, maybe a way to create buzz/marketing awareness for the company.

  • Biff Champion

    “What a downer: That may have been the best beer we’ve ever tasted.”

    Why can’t they just rename it and keep producing it?

  • Dave – does not have a lasting effect on the business, we just can’t make that particular beer anymore. And luckily, when the order was given, there was no more product left in inventory.

    Maly – the reason behind the cease and desist order was having the President’s name in conjunction with our product, which apparently violated some federal statutes as presented to us by the TTB.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Sheldon’s Silver Suds
    Markowitz Malt
    Bloomberg Beer
    Paterson Pilsner
    Letitia Lager

  • this story is 100 percent BS. especially after this person totally jumped in to make it seem less harsh. im calling 311 right now to confirm accuracy!

    *r*

  • Biden’s Big Mouth Brew

  • why dont you just change the name to “bummer brew”

  • Maly

    If I were your PR person, I’d be all over it. You can get millions of free advertising from being shut down.

  • Well, that seems like a fruitful use of taxpayer dollars.

  • Biff Champion

    So this delicious brew is done, yet that Village baker is allowed to make racist cookies…where’s the justice?

  • You are correct in the sense that we could just change the name of the beer, that actually is an option. The recipe is not what is illegal. Its the name of the beer that is illegal.

    If we wanted to, we could just brew the same recipe under a new name, but keep in mind, that label would also have to be approved by the Feds (all beer labels need TTB approval).

  • slopefarm

    My question is the same as Biff’s. Why destroy the beer? An ale by any other name is just as _____.

    I see a new cause brewing: develop don’t destroy beer.

  • There was no beer that needed to be destroyed as all of the inventory that we had was shipped to our distributor, and our distributor was also out-of-stock (demand was high).

    Therefore, the only kegs left in existence were those that we already purchased by end-user accounts, and were being stored for a later date (like the inauguration, etc).

    I don’t believe there are any more kegs in existence now though, as there certainly are not any at our facility.

  • daveinbedstuy

    This is the first step in the return to Prohibition.

  • why do some bars carry like 40 beers with different names and labels but they basically all taste the same? maybe i have a crappy palette or something, i dont know. it just seems ridiculous to make up a stupid name for a beer, use the same (yes same) recipe and slap on a sticker you made in photoshop and sell it for 9 bucks. *r*

  • daveinbedstuy

    That’s called marketing, rob.

  • Hop Obama is very, very good, but Hop Angel from Chelsea is better. Rumours that G-d is going to ask that the latter be renamed are wholly unfounded.

  • East New York

    Don’t mess with The President.

  • Brenda from Flatbush

    No one has pointed out that a “Hop Obama” bottle should now become a hot collectible! E-bay, anyone? Cheers!

  • Maybe Shane shouldn’t have said “Sixpoint was raided by the Feds” in his email to us – This creates a mental image of Eliot Ness storming the brewery with troopers and taking an axe to beer barrels.

  • daveinbedstuy

    I was thinking that Brenda and now you go and ruin it. Where can I buy a sixpack of this stuff????

  • I still don’t get it. What labels? The beer was only sold in kegs and all six point taps are just wood taps with the six pointed star on it. Just tell the bars to change their chalkboards to Hop Blagojevich or something.

  • Biff Champion

    “Just tell the bars to change their chalkboards to Hop Blagojevich or something.”
    They could do that, but it’ll cost them!

  • Was there a picture of the president on the label? There are lots of people in the world with the last name OBAMA.

  • surely it could just be renamed, right?

  • Moto – wrong use of words indeed, as I’ve been receiving an insane amount of distorted emails and phone calls regarding this matter.

    There was no teargas or rifles or people swinging in through windows with bodygear on.

    It was more of an unannounced and surprise inspection, then a forceful “stop what you are doing or we’ll shut you down”

    Bottom line: no more Hop Obama as commanded by the Feds.

  • Don’t think there were any bottles…just kegs, right?

  • daveinbedstuy

    There is a town in japan named Obama. I’m sure they won’t sue or send kamikazis.

  • slopefarm

    sixpoint,

    We all appreciate your participation in this thread. I supported Obama strongly, but also like a good beer. Kidding aside, what legal basis for the action did the feds give you? Personal trademark or some kind of protection/safety of the president? Seems more like a matter for the prez’s personal lawyer than Homeland Security.

  • yes, there were no bottles at all, and that’s why this whole thing is ridiculous. However, each keg has a “keg label” to identify the flavor, and there was also a web page featuring the Hop Obama on our website, and some other minimal printed material.

  • They put a warning shot out a few weeks ago:

    White House Lawyers Look to Limit Commercial Use of President
    Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) — Barack Obama’s popularity makes him a marketer’s dream. Now, the honeymoon may be over for those trying to profit from his appeal.

    http://tinyurl.com/dl2k93

  • daveinbedstuy

    So there are taps out there right??? I need to go find a bar and relieve them of one. I did it back in my college days and got ahold of that lady sitting on the globe Schlitz tap from the 70s

  • no, you won’t find any taps or bottles or anything in existence – all of it had to be called back or destroyed.

    altough…. :-) I do think Pacific Standard made their own “custom” Hop Obama tap handle

  • daveinbedstuy

    I hope they didn’t model it after a certain cookie!!!!!

  • Time to write the our president and remind him of his very large Brooklyn voting block’s love of this beer.

    Suggest that we’re asking the brewery to change the name to ‘one term barry’ ale.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Honeymoon over.

  • I hope they make those people selling all the Obama merch on the streets cease and desist. I feel like I’m in North Korea surrounded by all these fawning images of our Dear Leader.

  • we never did this to make money, we did this to promote his campaign. We donated all of our profit to getoutthevote.org, so this whole thing is ridiculous.

    We also had ceased production of it weeks before the Feds ordered us to stop. That is why the whole thing is silly.

  • infinitejester

    Next up – Cherry Garcia.

    I never got to taste it, I went looking for it once but it was sold out. Back to absinthe!

  • Not only did Pacific Standard create their own Hop Obama tap handle…But it was a bobble-head handle of the man himself!!

    And these guys at Sixpoint are the most creative bunch of dudes, so when the next absolutely most delicious brew is shipped out, then this beer will be a thing of the past and only those of us lucky ones can reminisce about the sweet nectar that was once HOP OBAMA!

  • Hey Sixpoint,
    I don’t get it. . . what reason did the feds give?

  • “why do some bars carry like 40 beers with different names and labels but they basically all taste the same? maybe i have a crappy palette or something, i dont know. it just seems ridiculous to make up a stupid name for a beer, use the same (yes same) recipe and slap on a sticker you made in photoshop and sell it for 9 bucks. *r*”

    Rob – beer has more characteristics that distinguish it then wine does. If you told any wine snob that all red wine tastes the same I’m sure they’d laugh at you.

  • The story on Gothamist has more details:

    Jeff Gorlechen from Sixpoint just got back to us and says, “This whole thing has gotten blown out of proportion.” He clarifies that the Hop Obama brew ran afoul of the law not because it was named after the President, but because it was named after a celebrity, which is illegal since it can be misinterpreted as an endorsement. Gorlechen says, “We wouldn’t have been able to name it after Scarlett Johansson, either.” However, since the limited edition Hop Obama proved so popular, Sixpoint has not ruled out bringing it back. “We just need a new name,” he tells us.

  • slopefarm

    I’m looking forward to drinking some Presidenti-ale, real soon (if you use it, you owe me, sixpoint ;) ). Meanwhile, I still don’t get the Homeland Security part. What jurisdiction does DHS have over IP disputes?

  • its because the Dept of Homeland Security governs the TTB, also formerly known as the ATF – and they control the label approval and registration for all beers

  • Wait – why destroy the beer and not just rename it something like Hope Ale? What does the beer have to do with it – I thought the problem was with the name.

  • Fresh off the (Facebook) presses:

    Subject: Hop Obama – please stop

    Please everyone, no more phone calls or emails about the Feds crashing through our windows with teargas and rifles to shut down the brewery.

    Also, I just received a phone call from the Feds in Wash DC about this and other related things, so please stop.

    All of this happened months ago – way back in November, and we decided not to tell anyone about it. We quietly destroyed visual remnants of the Hop Obama (the beer was already long gone, but we removed it from our website and got rid of the printed material) and went along with our business.

    The funny thing about this whole situation is we actually already stopped making this beer before the Feds even ordered us to stop. Immediately fter the election, before the Feds contacted us, we didn’t make a single batch of Hop Obama and the beer was out-of-stock at our distributor.

    It was only after the election – late November – that the Feds stepped in an ordered us to stop. We had prior label approval from them, but apparently they didn’t want us to do it.

    People had been asking me about the Hop Obama recently, and when we will be making it again, so I wanted to set the record straight and tell you- THERE WILL BE NO MORE HOP OBAMA AND THE REASON WHY IS THE FEDS WILL NOT ALLOW IT.

    However, as I said, we can reincarnate the beer, but we just can’t call it the Hop Obama. The recipe is not the problem, its the use of the name without the government and President’s approval for our beer.

    How about the Abomination Ale?

    Get it? hehehe Obama-Nation ale? :-D

    that’s it

  • call it hop ‘Bama with a picture of a Abe Lincoln on it….from an old deep south recipe….as we go marching through Georgia…

  • It was always the deal that Hop Obama was a limited run that would end after November 4th. If you’d asked one of your friendly neighborhood beer bar-tenders, we would have let you know that, and sold you a growler for your secret stash. Instead of pouting, we should all just be excited about the next awesome new treat Sixpoint can brew up with those production resources.

    The TTB also went after Ommegang for their limited Obama-gang release, as well. So the feds aren’t picking on Sixpoint. http://www.examiner.com/x-2327-Drinks-Examiner~y2009m1d14-Feds-put-a-cork-in-Obamagang-beer

  • hop amabo
    yes we can ale
    hussein ale
    hop palin

  • the_awesome:

    you are right on the money and got yer facts straight. We never intended this to be a full-time brew anyways, thats why we no longer made it after the 4th of November. The funny thing is, a few weeks later is when we were first contacted by the Feds about the beer! We weren’t even producing it anymore, but I guess they just wanted to make sure we would never make it again…

  • likes2lurk

    Why is everyone so baffled that you can’t use the president’s name to market beer?

    Don’t you need permission before you use anyone’s name for commercial purposes?

  • well than i should be able to sue dunkin donuts!

    *r*

  • “Why is everyone so baffled that you can’t use the president’s name to market beer?

    Don’t you need permission before you use anyone’s name for commercial purposes?”

    You hit the nail on the head.

    He wasn’t the President and nobody cared about him when the Feds gave us the approval over a year ago, but once he became President-Elect they immediately swooped in to put the kabosh on it.

    However, I’m not sure what the laws are for ALL PRODUCTS, but liquor and beer are highly regulated industries and they definitely have rules about what you can and cannot have on your labels to promote beer – including celebrities, politicians, etc.

  • Just rename it

    SWEET LEGAL ACTION

    or

    SWEET HOPE ALE-ABAMA

    You guys do really brew the best beer in the world!

  • likes2lurk

    Thanks, sixpoint, and kudos for your candor/responsiveness.

    That’s funny that nobody cared about him a year ago, and now he’s the president. It still seems like a dream. This afternoon I was waiting in a bank line and they had cnbc on, without sound. I don’t know what the story was, but they showed Mr. O walking to the helicopter, laughing and putting his arm on people’s shoulders. Then he stepped up to the gangplank and snapped a salute to the two marines standing guard. Freaky and mesmerizing.

  • if this happened under bush, this group would be using terms like “nazi” and be tearing him apart. perhaps the pundits are right in saying the 52% are going to happily roll over as they get trampled on.