Local beer survives dispute with community help

Matthew Nadeau didn’t wake up expecting to find a letter from one of the leading energy drink companies in the world. But on Sept. 14, that’s exactly what happened, and Nadeau received a cease and desist notice from Monster in regards to his Vermont Beer, Vermonster.Despite this, Hansen Beverages, head of Monster Energy Drink, and Rock Art Brewery came to an agreement regarding copyright issues with Rock Art’s beer the Vermonster on Oct. 20.Rock Art Brewery can continue to manufacture the Vermonster, provided that Nadeau stays out of the energy drink market.”Even in light of Hansen Beverages decision to back off, the idea that this massive, faceless company can infiltrate a place like Vermont is slightly sickening. I’m really glad to see that our community cared enough to make a difference, at least in this situation,” freshman Arin Lustberg said.Nadeau started his company, Rock Art Brewery, out of his basement. Ten years later, with seven employees and a factory located in Morrisville, Nadeau decided to celebrate by making a beer called the Vermonster. He received the trademark for it in 2006 and released it in 2007.The case was met with an uproar from the Vermont brewing community. Stores across Chittenden County, including the Winooski Beverage Warehouse and Pearl Street Beverage, pulled Monster products from their shelves in protest and alerted the media.Winooksi Beverage Warehouse employee Adam Briggs said that store management took action as soon as news of the case broke.”As soon as we heard, we pulled all Monster products and alerted the media,” Briggs said. “It kind of snowballed from there.”The community support that the Rock Art Brewery received was monumental, Briggs said. It was a testament to the unity of the trade. “The craft beer community is not one you want to screw with — especially in Vermont,” Briggs said. Briggs said that the response from Hansen Beverages was ridiculous and that no reasonable person in the trade would have stood for it. “We took a billion-dollar company and we embarrassed them,” Briggs said. However, Cat’s Pause, located in the Davis Center, is contractually obligated to continue to stock Monster products.Other support came from websites like Facebook and Twitter.Student Lukas Payette created a group on Facebook named “Vermonters and Craft Beer Drinkers Against Monster.” “Anything from Vermont has my support,” Facebook poster Susan Dickinson said. “I’m a Vermonter and we folks stick together. The Phish Band, Ben & Jerry’s, Maple Sugar Candy, Vermonster — good shit.”Another Facebook member, Luke Tilley, said that he usually spreads his beer dollars around the local breweries in Vermont, but his protest will be to exclusively buy Rock Art beer until the case is over. The situation raised serious questions regarding copyright and trademark laws and the difficulties, right or wrong, that small businesses face against corporate America.”In an age when it can be hard for individuals and underdogs to win any sort of battles against corporations, it feels really refreshing to see this outcome. When I turn 21, I’ll be sure to go buy a Vermonster and see what the fuss was really all about,” Lustberg said.