Despite Turmoils & Name Change, Base Camp Stays Positive

A tad over two years into the history of Base Camp Beer Works, the company has had its share of obstacles to overcome. Somehow, though, General Manager and co-founder Brian Fischer and his team head into the fall of 2022 with a smile on their face, a positive outlook on it all … and a second location for the western Colorado brewery.

Forget making lemonade out of lemons, this Grand Junction company made beer instead.

“We wear our values on our sleeve at our place,” Fischer said. “I think that draws people to our taproom, people with similar values. … It’s never been part of our culture to kind of complain to customers, we always try to be as positive as we can and make their experience as positive as possible.

“And trust me, we’ve had a lot to complain about.”

With a grand opening slated for mid-March, 2020, the brewery’s celebration was cut short by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of a grand opening, the brewery had a “canned” opening, offering to-go cans. This was followed up by massive wildfires, a mudslide, and then a year of road construction. Yes, Fischer and the team at the then Monumental Beer Works facility had a lot to be down about.

“We’ve had a lot to complain about, but we’ve never really done it. And I think that’s been to our benefit,” he said. “The construction was just another just another thing.”

Heading into the spring of 2022, he said they were looking forward to an “uneventful, but awesome spring.”

“And then the email comes along,” Fischer said. “Oh, crap. Here we go again.”

This spring, the brewery received a cease and desist for the brewery’s name from Port City Brewing on the word Monumental. It’s the name of the veteran brewery’s flagship IPA as well.

“Definitely blindsided by it,” Fischer said. “We did our research and we also ran it by a trademark attorney. Their beer name never even popped up as a concern. It definitely caught us off guard. We were not anticipating that.

“We ran through a series of emotions … but we were like, Okay, we’re not gonna wallow in this negativity. It’s time for us to put a positive spin on this. Let’s reach back out to our community, and let them know that this is happening. Let’s just move forward. So we put the whole trademark dispute, and our name, Monumental Beer Works in the rearview mirror, and said we’re gonna move forward with positivity and optimism, and just use this as an opportunity to re-engage our community, which is what we did.”

The name Base Camp was suggested because it was used during fundraising efforts during the launch of the brewery in 2019 and 2020.

“I don’t know why we didn’t think of it, because Base Camp is what we called our initial group of angel investors, we refer to them as our base camp members,” Fischer said. “Wow, that just makes sense.”

Digging back into the trademark search to double check (Fischer said, “We learned way more about trademarks than we’ve ever wanted to.”) and came across the recently closed Base Camp Brewing in Portland, Oregon. It had closed during the pandemic and they came to a trademark ownership agreement with the previous owner to be able to use it. The brewery officially became Base Camp in late July 2022.

Now, said Fischer, the new struggle is all the switches that have had to be made.

“You think you know everything that you’ve changed. And then every day, something else comes up that we haven’t changed yet,” Fischer said. “Every single company that you ever order from … grain, hops, yeast, glassware, merch, cleaning supplies, linens. Just everything you can possibly imagine. All those accounts have to be changed over.”

Social media has been a huge hurdle as well.

“Truthfully, it is much more difficult to change those social media handles than it is to create new ones,” he said. “But we had to go through the process of changing because we didn’t want to start from scratch.

“Taxes, federal ID, insurance. It’s exhaustive and it’s draining but we just take it in stride. We’ve exhausted this list as far as we know, but we know that almost every day something else comes up and probably will for the next six months or so.”

Although the changes have set Base Camp back financially — using funds slated for equipment expansion went toward the name change effort — the brewery is excited to open a second location in October 2022. Base Camp Provisions will be a full bar and brewpub with Base Camp beer on tap 12 miles northwest of their headquarters in Fruita, Colorado.

“Since our infancy in planning, we have made the decision as an organization that we firmly believe in the taproom model for craft beer, and we’re really not believers in the distribution model,” Fischer said. “The margins are just so tight, you really have to be more of a massive operation to be successful in that and that’s just not what we’re interested in.”

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