Minneapolis-based Modist Brewing hasn't even been open for a year, but it already has to retire one of its popular beers.
Apparently Toats – a pale ale made with more than 50 percent oats – too closely resembles Tott's, a champagne made by E.J. Gallo Winery. In a post on Facebook, Modist says they got a letter a few months ago from the wine giant's lawyers who were concerned that people could confuse Toats with Tott's.
"While the images [below] may show that the confusion is unlikely, we have not a bagillion dollars to spend on legal defense," Modist wrote on Facebook.
They were surprised to hear from the winery, Dan Wellendorf of Modist told GoMN Monday.
"In the end, they wanted us to agree to limit how far we distribute Toats, and that's not something we're willing to do," Wellendorf said, noting E.J. Gallo's lawyers were just doing their job to protect their brands.
"If we had the time and money to fight the good fight, I think there's a good chance we could have kept Toats around, but c'est la vie," he added.
Instead, the brewery plans to rebrand and replace Toats. The new beer will still be made with more than 50 percent oats, but they're making some subtle changes – like using a little more barley and a little less wheat in the beer, Wellendorf said. The hop profile will also be similar with some citrusy aromas and flavors.
They're changes Modist thinks will make the beer even better, with Wellendorf noting they've learned a lot about brewing with oats since they opened last year.
If you want to toast Toats goodbye, there are still a few kegs left in the taproom, with some being saved for Modist's Brews, Blues, & BBQ event on Feb. 18.
Modist says if you kick the last keg of Toats, they'll buy you your next beer.