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Shmaltz settles suit over 'MANNAge a Trois' moniker

Shmaltz settles suit over 'MANNAge a Trois' moniker

Deal brings change in marketing for hoppy mix pack
Shmaltz settles suit over 'MANNAge a Trois' moniker
The new mix pack from Shmaltz Brewing Co. is seen in this provided marketing image.
Photographer: Photo provided

It takes two to tango. Three’s a crowd. And four? That’s an orgy — at least according to a newly named variety pack from Shmaltz Brewing Company.

The new 12-pack, called Hop Orgy, is the result of a lawsuit settled with Sutter Home Winery over the brewery's mix pack of hoppy beers, formerly called MANNAge a Trois. Sutter Home claimed in the lawsuit — filed in late November in San Francisco federal court — that the moniker was “confusingly similar” to Menage a Trois, a name the winery said it trademarked in 2006 and has been using since 1997.

The French expression “menage a trois” translates literally to “household of three" and refers to a sexual relationship involving three people.

“The Parties have amicably resolved the dispute to their mutual satisfaction,” read the entire statement released Wednesday by the Clifton Park brewery. The statement was accompanied by a colorful flier promoting the new mix pack. 

The 12-pack previously contained the brewery’s Hop Momma, Hop Manna and Hop Mania beers. The Hop Orgy pack adds a fourth brew, Hop Orgy IPA, to the mix. The beer boasts six hop varieties — warrior, citra, centennial, cascade, amarillo, simcoe and mosaic — and its alcohol by volume is 6 percent. 

Sutter Home claimed the brewery’s use of the name was likely to confuse customers into thinking the beer was somehow connected to the winery, saying Shmaltz “would unjustly benefit from such association.” The lawsuit sought triple and punitive damages, in addition to asking the brewery to stop using the name.

The California winery said it sold more than 32 million bottles of its Menage a Trois wine, worth more than $193 million, last year.

Calls to the brewery were not returned Wednesday, and no other details of the settlement were released.

The brewery did, however, offer a playful description of how the Hop Orgy variety pack came about on the flier promoting it:

“We’re still not really sure how it all went down. Everything was kind of a blur. Someone called someone’s package out and demanded some immediate action. Tentative whispers and coy glances turned to giggles and playful suggestions. Suddenly we realized it was on — and everyone jumped in to make it happen.”

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