UPLAND, Calif. – On May 1 this year, Upland-based microbrewery Dale Bros Brewery changed its name to Last Name Brewing.
Established in 2003 by Brewmaster Curt Dale, Dale Bros Brewery, known for its flagship amber lager Pomona Queen, was one of the founding breweries of the Los Angeles-area craft beer movement. In 2007, Curt’s brother Andy Dale joined the company to head up business development and help with the brewery’s first substantial expansion. The two brothers picked up a love of brewing in their 20s, winning ribbons at the LA County Fair for their home brews.
“Being two brothers with the last name Dale, it seemed like calling the company Dale Bros Brewery was a natural,” said Curt Dale.
As the brewery’s popularity grew, the owners decided to trademark their name. However, the United States Patent and Trademark Office turned down the application.
“It turns out there’s another Dale in craft brewing, and in all fairness, he was here first,” Andy Dale said.
Curt Dale said, “While it was really hard to think about giving up our company’s name, we knew it was the right thing to do.”
“Our brewery was growing and everything just kept pointing back to the business necessity of operating under a unique name that would be protected in the marketplace,” said Andy Dale.
The Dale Bros team brainstormed options for a new name with their Pasadena-based branding and advertising agency Echo-Factory.
“We wanted something that we could transition our existing branding to easily and that captured the feel of who we are,” said brewery co-owner, Karen McMillen, who heads up Dale Bros’ marketing. “We’d been working with Echo-Factory for a few years to develop our existing branding. They’re both amazingly creative and they really get us, so we knew right away they’d be the right people to help us through this process.”
“Branding is the ultimate expression of a company as an entity... So it takes a lot of effort, dedication and affection to do it right. We’ve worked with Dale Bros for many years to develop this ‘right’ kind of branding – something that perfectly captures their unique ‘black sheep’ personality. So, of course, it was bittersweet working with them to come up with a new name. But, in the end, we believe we found a name that holds true to the brand that we’ve all worked so hard to develop,” said Dea Goldsmith, Chief Creative Officer at Echo-Factory.
“With the boom in the craft beer industry over the last decade, trying to come up with a new name that both ‘fit us’ AND that we could trademark was a challenge,” McMillen said.
“It is extremely important that as craft breweries grow and expand their footprint they have a trademark for their brewery name. The effect of someone to be able to force you to change your name once you have spent money on packaging and distribution could be devastating to a small company. That said, it is also quite difficult to find a name that someone else hasn’t already used in connection with alcohol,” says Candace Moon, Craft Beer Attorney.
Together, Echo-Factory and Dale Bros decided on the new name Last Name Brewing. “There was something about it that we just really liked. It’s fun in that it refers back to our company’s origins, but it’s also inclusive in a ‘Your Name Here’ kind of way. We’ve been called the ‘Cheers’ of breweries – a comfortable place where everyone feels at home – so it works on that level, too,” said McMillen. “One of our brewers jokes that we chose it because it was the last name available for trademarking in beer,” said Curt Dale, “We’re hoping it’s the last name we’ll ever have to give our company.”
With the new name in place, Last Name Brewing will continue to supply beer to craft beer lovers both in its Upland tap room and in restaurants, bars and retail stores in the Inland Empire. The brand is now poised to grow outside the hyper-local area as well.
Andy Dale said, “Call us whatever you want. We’re still the same people, making the same great beer.”