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Vodoo Brewery Launches Pitt-Themed Beer

Pitt fans have mastered the art of self-deprecation amid losing seasons on the football field and basketball court over the past year. So, it seems appropriate that a Panthers-themed beer has, too.

Voodoo Brewery has re-launched its H2P American IPA with a new name and packaging that still honors the university, but also pokes a little fun at it over a trademark dispute between the two parties last year. Non-Trademark Infringement Alma Mater IPA dropped in a limited release a couple of weeks ago, and like its predecessor, is a hot seller.

The West Coast-style India Pale Ale’s original branding was scuttled just days after its seasonal distribution to coincide with football season began last fall. Pitt attorneys contacted the brewery to contest the use of university-owned marks including the Cathedral of Learning and script lettering on the packaging, and Meadville-based Voodoo promptly began stripping labels off of cans to comply.

Grumbling from Panthers fans followed almost immediately. Many of them had embraced the beer over several runs of distribution since 2014, when it graduated from tap rooms at the brewery’s Meadville, Erie, Homestead and Grove City locations to can releases.

The challenge also caught Meadville-based Voodoo off guard. The beer was well established at the time Pitt challenged it, and the brewery had even showcased it on campus twice at the university’s invitation. CEO Matteo Rachocki said he felt the company had the university’s blessing.

Voodoo, however, has turned the incident into an opportunity. A can release under the new branding a couple of weeks ago sold out, and Rachocki said the brewery hopes for multiple distributions per year moving forward. It’s also not too worried that the more subtle Pitt references in the packaging will cause sales to slump among fans of the beer.

“I don’t know if something happened, or the plug was pulled from the chancellor’s office for that last approval. I don’t know.”

For its part, Pitt had little to say about the situation. When asked about the licensing meetings and subsequent radio silence, spokesman Joe Miksch had a one-sentence statement. “The university is not moving forward at this time,” he wrote in an email, and did not respond when asked to elaborate.

Source:Pittsburg Post Gazette

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