Payette Brewing Co. agrees to change name of its flagship beer

It turns out that Boise’s favorite Outlaw really is a lawbreaker — albeit unwittingly.

Payette Brewing’s Outlaw IPA will be rebranded by the end of the year, founder Mike Francis says. Two Brothers Brewing Co., a family-owned business since 1996, sent Payette a cease-and-desist letter.

Two Brothers also has an Outlaw IPA — and a trademark.

“It’s kind of tough with it being our bestselling beer,” Francis said Friday. “I don’t want to change it. But it’s kind of what we should do and have to do.”

Trademark issues are becoming increasingly common as the craft-beer industry flourishes. More breweries are opening and selling their beers in multiple states. It’s not just brewery on brewery, either. Boise Brewing, which opened in 2014, originally planned to call itself Bogus Brewing — until Bogus Basin Recreational Association voiced concern.

To make matters even more complicated in the Outlaw world? There’s also an Outlaw Milk Stout brewed by Great Basin Brewing Co. of Nevada. Plus, Two Brothers also operates a brewery in not-so-distant Arizona.

OK — how about changing the name to Outlawed IPA?

“Oh, we talked about that,” Francis said with a chuckle. “The advice was it would be in our best interest not to do that.”

Francis also has heard the suggestion “Outlawyered,” which made him laugh.

In reality, none of this is particularly humorous for the Garden City brewery. Payette sells 80 percent of its beer in Idaho but also distributes it in Oregon, Utah and parts of Nevada and Washington.

Already Idaho’s largest producer of beer, Payette will break ground soon on a $4.5 million Boise plant with plans to push its beers into larger markets such as Seattle. Changing the name of its most popular beer almost certainly will have a negative financial impact, although Payette will be able to use up its Outlaw IPA packaging in the next few months.

How much will the name change cost the company?

“I don’t want to think about it,” Francis said. “Outlaw is a pretty household name here in Boise in the beer industry. That transition, it remains to be seen how it will affect us. We’re hoping it will be smooth.”

Francis said he thinks Payette would have rights to the Outlaw name if he had filed for a trademark when he founded the brewery in 2010. But trademarks often are overlooked by startups, he admits.

“On your list of priorities where to spend money, trademarks wind up pretty low, even though in the long run they should be pretty high,” he said.

So what will Outlaw IPA be called?

There’s an idea, Francis said, but Payette is still making sure it’s legally viable. Trademarking beer names suddenly seems rather paramount.

“It’s always fun, right? It’s always fun running a business,” Francis said with a chuckle, sounding like a guy who could use a cold one right about now.