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The ‘Namaste’ Beer Wars

in YD News


Oh no! There’s a battle brewing in the beer world and it has everything to do with the divine light in me honoring the divine light (beer?) in you. Two beer makers are fighting over the name ‘Namaste’ in other words, the suds in me recognize the suds in you are trademark infringement.(No, it is not some not some new sudsy yoga class, thank goodness. Brooklyn probably has that covered anyway.)

Whip In, a convenient store and brewpub in Austin, recently received an unofficial Cease & Desist notice from Delaware-based brewing company Dogfish Head to stop using the Namaste trademarked name. Whip In has an in-house ‘Namaste Brewery’ but Dogfish Head already has a Namaste beer on the market, “a witbier bursting with good karma.”  Oh, there is karma.

Whip In’s GM Dipak Topiwala took to facebook to air his grievances and disappointment over the un-namaste-ness and sucky “cultural imperialism.”

feeling quite disheartened right now by the un-namaste from Dogfish with their cease&desist letter against our brewing company name at the whip in. cultural imperialism sucks, and its awfully difficult to explain that to the imperialists, esp in such direct irony to the very nature of the word namaste to us. trying to rise in true Gandhian fashion that this too shall pass. namaste y’all…

But from Dogfish’s standpoint, they’re only trying to protect a trademark, because why have one if you don’t defend it, right? DFH offered their only public comment via their blog:

As many of you are probably aware, there is no point in having a trademark unless we actively defend it (and if we don’t defend it this time, anyone can name a beer Namaste), and Dogfish does have a federal trademark for Namaste in the beer world, which covers both breweries and beer.

We’re happy to report that, in the spirit of Namaste, the two are trying to work out a collaborative and friendly solution. But there is still a very bitter taste in Topiwala’s mouth, and it’s not the hops, unless you spell hops like you spell appropriation. He continued on his facebook post:

unfortunately i find their perspective tone deaf to their cultural insensitivity. its appropriation no matter how you look at it, legally or not. while i have offered to coexist amicably according to their ‘licensed’ parameters (hence tone deaf) as of this writing i have not heard from their counsel. even gandhi had to accept jinna’s partition ‘resolution’.


its imperative to have a right attitude in this as they will win when we have to change our name according to their legal standing. but it won’t change their lack of moral & ethical character in regards to the use of a word that exemplifies so much more than they are capable of holding or understanding. i will be glad to be done with this and move on to make beer and joyousness for us to share without their shadow.

As for karma? By law, Topiwala will have to go ahead and change the name of his business (current possibilities: nothing is sacred brewing’, catshark brewing, godogfishyoself brewing) but he has other plans for the Dogfish Head beer they still have in stock in his store:

so, we have a lot of dogfish beer on hand and in the cellar. and me and arden are thinking that we should have an event to sell all that beer and donate it to a local nonprofit organization to turn the karma around for good instead of fireselling it or throwing it away since we prolly won’t be offering their beers anymore after all this dhamal. to whom is it the most apropos to donate? we must be the change!

We sometimes forget, as yogis, that we don’t own namaste either. But should beer companies? Lest we forget, we do live in a world where yoga’s been used to name everything from a Foreman-approved boxing workout to a winter storm to a laptop computer.

[Eater Austin; Reddit]

image via fiftytwobottles.wordpress.com



10 comments… add one
  • Yogis drink beer?

  • Beth Ramsay

    I’ve tried the Dogfish Namaste…it was less than a spiritual experience, sadly.

    • Himix

      should’ve had half a case for the enlightenment to kick in.

  • I met Sam (from Dogfish Head) while working in the beer industry, then ran into him randomly in Italy a couple years ago. He actually maintains a regular yoga practice even while traveling & had his yoga mat with him on the trip!

  • Jennifer S

    I find the “legal” appropriation of the word “namaste” used for a beer to be somewhat offensive. I guess it would be similar to someone creating a “Christ is Risen” beer (after all, yeast is involved). Some things just should not be.

    I guess that I am still working on my karmic self because personally, I’m all for just boycotting Dogfish. My money can be better spent in other ways than adding to the coffers of a company that would act this way. After all, if they actually knew what the word meant and took it seriously, they would never have acted in this fashion.

  • I thought for sure this was gonna be about a yoga class drinking beer, but I will definitely have to try out these beers and see if either enlightens me!

  • Jen

    Whip In is a pretty small, humble business. It’s not like it’s trying to take over the world. My opinion of Dogfish Head has gone way down. No one should own the word Namaste.

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