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E-Malt.com News article: USA, IL: Rockford Brewing Co. becomes Prairie Street Brewing Co.
Brewery news

Rockford Brewing Co. has a new, but familiar, name: Prairie Street Brewing Co., Rockford Register Star reports

Rebranding of the brewery began quietly last month with new graphics and colors on menus, coasters and other materials. The Prairie Street brand will get a much larger public unveiling this week with the start of Dinner on the Dock on Thursday and Rockford City Market on Friday.

Rockford Brewing Co. opened in the Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 Prairie St., in 2013. The beer company and building it is in have become synonymous.

"We had two names and that was confusing people, including us," said Dustin Koch, who, with Reed Sjostrom and Chris Manuel, founded the brewery in a building rich with beer history.

Beer was first made on Prairie Street in 1849 when Jonathon Peacock started brewing. Several brewers subsequently operated out of the building, until brewing ceased in 1945. But with the explosion in popularity of craft beer, it made sense to bring a brewery to the building after owners Loyd and Diane Koch undertook a $12 million renovation of the landmark property.

Now it's a mixed-use development of offices, loft apartments, a restaurant, bars, docks, and reception and meeting space. And beer.

But the return of a brewery brought the return of Peacock, who gets an avian shoutout on the brewery's new logo featuring a graphic image of the bird with the beautiful tail. In the logo, the peacock has three feathers, one for each of the new brewery's founders.

A unique identity for a brewery these days is tougher to come by and a marketing problem for brewery owners. At the end of 2015, there were 4,269 breweries in the United States, according to the Brewers Association. More breweries means more names for both companies and the beers they make.

With more names, logos and designs comes greater risk for trademark trouble.

In 2014, Rockford Brewing Co. in Illinois found itself in a branding spat with Rockford Brewing Co. of Rockford, Michigan. The Illinois brewer brought a trademark lawsuit against its Michigan namesake that was settled, but not before federal Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston offered some colorful advice.

"If there was ever a case in which the parties should sit down over a beer and resolve their disputes, without question, this is that case," wrote Johnston in the case that came before him in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

But the local brewery still faced identity issues.

"Even after the quarrel with the Michigan boys, we were still confusing our own customers and we needed to pave the way for a strategically strong future," Sjostrom said.

Part of that future may be regional. When visitors from throughout the Midwest come to the new UW Health Sports Factory, Prairie Street Brewing Co. will provide them with a taste of Rockford.

The company was picked as the restaurant operator for the downtown sports complex, which opens June 1. When fans from the region come for basketball, volleyball and other weekend sports tournaments, Prairie Street will be first in line as a food and drink option.

Sjostrom said the new restaurant would help determine the brewery's next move, which is likely to include distribution to bars and restaurants and canning for retail sales.

"It really depends on how much beer we go through at the Sports Factory this summer and off site," Sjostrom said.

Danielle Kelly of Rockford, who will marry Paul Washa this summer between stainless steel brewing tanks at Prairie Street Brewing Co., said the name change and rebrand is for the better.

"The whole thing really looks nice and honestly, I think that's going to help them tremendously when they go to distributing their beer," she said.

20 May, 2016

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