After a decade in the craft beer industry, my husband and I started writing our business plan for this brewery during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020. We had always talked about opening a brewery since we started homebrewing in college, but the uncertainty of the world in 2020 pushed us to make a decision: go for it or let it go.

The Limitations of Our Knowledge

It took us over a year to name our brewery. As unsexy as it is, the importance of trademarking the name of our company was a big limitation in the process. My college art professor always said that limitations breed good art. She didn’t mention the way in which limitations can cause you to hit your head against so many walls before you break through. We called it The Third Sip, SUMAC, Bookworm Brewing, Artshop, Alewife, Hoptik, and so on. While these names all evoked something about who we wanted to be as a brand, none of them captured it all, and none of them were trademarkable.

Trace’s mother was doing a family genealogy project and sent us a list of some of the more interesting old family names. Elder Piper was on that list. He was one of their ancestors from the 1800s. Elder was his first name and Piper was his middle name. Elder and Piper were the last names of two more branches from Trace’s family tree, so the name had deep roots. It stood out to me because of the way it sounded when we said it out loud.

Elder Piper is just the start of a story. It’s strangely familiar and sort of magical, and that was just the type of brand we wanted to create.”

Elder Piper Beer & Cider

While the words are familiar, their meaning is unclear. Elder Piper is just the start of a story. It’s strangely familiar and sort of magical, and that was just the type of brand we wanted to create. With the family tree and gravestone pictures attached, we submitted our name to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office and, finally, received our approvals.

Petoskey, Michigan, where the brewery will be located, is my hometown. There is so much of me and my history in this brand, but Trace is the brewer. The beers he makes come from his experiences and memories. It was important to us that his history and family have a prominent place in the brand. Elder Piper does that while also leaving room for new meaning and new magic to come.

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