Jan 9, 2024 - News

Utah brewery discontinues beer after Mormon church trademark complaint

Illustration of the state of Utah in the shape of a no sign covering some beer.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A Salt Lake brewery is discontinuing its Deseret IPA over a trademark-related complaint from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Driving the news: Bewilder Brewing Co. announced in a newsletter on Monday that it will "phase out" Deseret IPA and replace it with a new product.

  • "Unfortunately a large tax exempt Utah-based entity wasn't pleased with our use of the word Deseret," the newsletter states. "We have been asked to drop our Trademark and discontinue the brand."
  • Filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show the brewery registered the trademark last August. The church and a few affiliated business entities then submitted filings as "potential opposers" and Bewilder abandoned the trademark in November.

What happened: "They claim to have some food and beverage offerings and were afraid of 'marketplace confusion,'" Bewilder owner Cody McKendrick told Axios.

The intrigue: The church opposes alcohol use and restricts the participation of members who drink.

  • "Their members would never think the LDS Church would be putting out a beer," McKendrick said — although, he noted, the church owned "all alcohol production in the state at one point."

Catch up quick: The word "deseret" is from the Book of Mormon and means "honey bee" — an animal associated with industriousness and hard work.

  • In the 1840s, early Mormons wanted Utah to be called the "State of Deseret," but the federal government rejected the name, according to the Library of Congress.

Of note: "Deseret" is used in the names of a number of local businesses that appear to have no affiliation with the church, including a medical supply store, barber, plant nursery, power company, homeopathic shop and carpet cleaning service.

Zoom in: The honey bee reference is germane to Bewilder's recipe for Deseret IPA, which uses honey.

What they're saying: "I don't have any money to fight with [the church], so we'll just move on from that beer," McKendrick said.

  • The church did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Flashback: The church last year mounted a legal challenge against Real Housewife Heather Gay's "Bad Mormon" trademark.

  • The church previously objected to a Taylorsville coffee shop's use of an image of a gold angel Moroni statue, as seen atop church temples. The shop pulled the image from its advertising and instead displayed the warning letter they received from the church's intellectual property office.

What's next: Bewilder's newsletter characterized the change as a "great opportunity to get a more modern style beer in the liquor store to replace it, so look for that coming soon!"

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