Sought-after 10% B.A.R.T. beer has BART (the transit agency) crying trademark “dilution”

Our local regional transit agency is trying to block a California brewery’s US trademark application for a respected and highly rated barrel-aged beer called “B.A.R.T.”

According to Eater, Bay Area Rapid Transit has protested FiftyFifty Brewing Company’s attempts to register B.A.R.T. as the name of this 7+ year old brand. This bourbon-barrel-aged blended whale of an ale is a variation on the acclaimed barrel-aged imperial stouts made by the brewery in Truckee, California. FiftyFifty has long been saying that the name stands for “Barrel Aged, Really Tasty,” and that it was an encoded tribute to a beloved dog, Bart, that had died recently back when the brew was first created.

image of fifty-fifty brewer/blender Rockstar bourbon-barrel beer blender Todd Ashman and his dad, at a FiftyFifty event in 2013

FiftyFifty recently applied for a federal trademark on this beer in order to start selling B.A.R.T. out of state as well as here. No wineries or other beverages seem to pose confusion in branding, and so one might expect the trademark to be granted.

BART (the transit agency) has turned their legal representatives on the mountain brewery, filing a protest with the feds that says granting a federal trademark is “likely to cause and will cause dilution of the distinctive quality of [BART’s] Marks.” It’s easy to be cynical and attribute this to a legal staff that is looking for billable hours, but there could be other forces at play.

To be fair, let’s keep an open mind.

Perhaps this action explains the old mystery of why the transit system closes early, before bar time, “for maintenance purposes.” Perhaps BART (the transit agency) is planning to make strong, barrel aged beers of their own. Perhaps barrels are being aged in the tube, under the Bay. There are walkway corridors that are nearly never needed, and the temperature would stay quite cool. It explains why the trains don’t run all night, so that sampling and barrel-tending can go on. The maintenance is on the barrels!

If this is so, then the objection that was filed could make sense. We hereby apologize for complaining about the train schedules, if we can attend the release party.
Do you have a better theory of what went wrong? Please do tell. Let’s get to the bottom of this!

—- yours truly, beerbybart ™

(There are admittedly some similarities between BART and a bottle of B.A.R.T. Neither have reliable elevators, for example. Neither is a light lager, either. You can’t pour yourself a glass of regional commuter bureaucracy, but racing to sign up for a limited release of FiftyFifty bottles online is a lot like that midnight race to get into the station before the last train arrives.)

Explore Beer By BART: Use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

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