Is There Room In Brooklyn For More Than One Narwhal Beer?


Because everyone loves thinking about adorable animals as much as they love drinking, the beer world has reached a pretty inevitable point of contention: which company named its beer after narwhals first?

The small, Bushwick-based beer purveyors at the Narwhal Brewing Company claim they staked out the name first, and that they’ve been unfairly swooped in on by Sierra Nevada, who recently filed to federally trademark a new “Narwhal Stout.”

“We heard that Sierra Nevada was going to release a ‘Narwhal’ beer and I was like, ‘What a coincidence,'” said, Narwhal co-founder Basil Lee. “We really like the name — to have them come in and take it is really frustrating.”

Which is true enough, but the small company has yet to obtain a liquor license or file for a federal trademark, making Sierra Nevada’s claims that it was a genuine accident pretty believable. “Like all of the beers we’ve launched before it we did extensive searches,” said a spokesman for the company. “In the searches for ‘Narwhal,’ we found no other beers based or sold in the United States.”

Though Narwhal claims Sierra Nevada has since gone back on a promise not to sell any further beers with the name, the company said, “It isn’t our intention to damage any aspiring or emerging craft brewery. We hope we can find an amicable solution and can continue the community spirit that comes with making and drinking craft beers.”

Which sounds totally reasonable. Additionally, this strikes something of a personal note. For reasons that are still unclear tom me, I actually wasn’t aware that narwhals (“sea unicorns,” if you will) were real, not mythological, creatures until high school. It was/continues to be a major source of embarrassment. So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m just glad they’re being publicized in the first place, lest anyone else have to suffer the same fate. Surely there’s enough room in our hearts and busy drinking schedules for more than one beer named after a shy, chubby water beast?

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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  1. There’s a story about Sierra Nevada doing something similar to Barrier Brewing, who had a small-run beer called Ruthless Rye before Sierra Nevada came out with theirs. Barrier changed the name of theirs to Evil Giant IPA.

    But that said, I really, really want to try the Narwhal stout.