Sometime in the past few months Ballast Point quietly changed the name of their Yellowtail Pale Ale to just Pale Ale. With the exception of a small graphic of the old six pack holder on the Pale Ale page, there is no mention of the previous name on Ballast Point’s website. I first noticed the change a few weeks ago when someone from out of town asked me about Ballast Point Pale Ale, I assumed he meant Yellowtail Pale Ale but I found the Yellowtail part of the name to have been removed. The last label approval I could find with the Yellowtail name (below) was in May of 2010 and the Pale Ale label (left) approval was granted in October of 2010.
Recently a few people with no direct connection to Ballast Point, but knowledge of the San Diego beer business told me that Ballast Point had been forced to change the name of their popular beer by the Australian winery that produces the Yellow Tail wine.
When asked for comment, asking specifically about the winery, Ballast Point sent me the following statement from Owner/CEO Jack White:
“We are changing the name for legal reasons. We can’t discuss the issue in detail, but we can tell you that it is the same beer brewed by the same people at the same brewery and portrays a picture of the same species of fish. We are proud of what is in the bottle and our artist/friend Paul Elder continues to create beautiful artwork so please keep on enjoying our Pale Ale”.
I called W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Ltd., the company that represents Yellow Tail wine in the United States and was transfered between two employees, both of which said they had no knowledge of the situation, but would have someone call me with more info. As of this writing I have not received a call back.
It’s sad that Ballast Point had to change the name of what might be their most recognizable beer, but these things happen, and as White says above, it’s still the same beer in the bottle. One thing that does standout now is that Pale Ale is the only one of their six year round beers listed on their website that isn’t named after a fish.
There have been many name disputes in the craft beer business recently. The Birmingham Weekly last week published a roundup of many trademark disputes between craft brewers and it was reported earlier this week that Firestone Walker would rename their Abacus because of a wine by the same name.
Based on what I have been told, it is likely but not confirmed that Yellow Tail wine was involved in this name change. If you know more about the change leave a comment below.
Update: Minor updates were made to this post 4/25/2011 at 8am.