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Even Beers Collaborate

by Phyllis Pollack
June 2011

From the Blog of Phyllis G. Pollack.

Phyllis  Pollack

Recently, a colleague, Daniel Yamshon, Esq. (Thank you, Dan!) directed me to a very unique story epitomizing alternate dispute resolution at its zenith! It is all about beer.

As related by the authors of (more specifically, on page 4: ) in their blog interview of May 3, 2011, it seems that two separate breweries produced a beer called “Salvation.” More specifically, both Adam Avery, President and Brewmaster of the Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado and Vinnie Cilurzo of the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA, each brewed a beer called “Salvation.”

In 2000 or 2001, Mr. Avery met Mr. Cilurzo, and they “became really good friends.” At some point, Mr. Avery realized that each of them was brewing a beer with the same name; “Salvation.”

As the years went by, they became “really close” friends, with Mr. Avery visiting Mr. Cilurzo at the latter’s brew pub on several occasions. Eventually, Mr. Avery asked the question: “are we going to have a problem with [the beers with the same name]”? Mr. Cilurzo responded that at some point, both of them needed to figure out what to do about this dilemma.

At this point in the story, the legal community, no doubt, would urge the filing of a lawsuit: sue for trademark infringement and a host of other claims, and make a big hullaballoo out of this!

But they eschewed the litigation route. Instead, Messrs. Avery and Cilurzo got together at Mr. Avery’s brewery in 2006 or 2007 and each took a batch of their respective beers and blended them together, getting the right ratio… and boom… a new beer was born called “Collaboration not Litigation.” (It was Mrs. Cilurzo who came up with the name!)

To Mr. Avery’s surprise, this new beer became quite popular, to the point, that he and Mr. Cilurzo brew a small batch of it each January! As Mr. Avery explains, the public’s reaction

“. . . has been all positive. People really appreciate the fact that we could have sued each other but instead kept this – our single beers both called Salvation and then we decided to do this blend. Vinne and I would both think that the blend itself is a better beer than the other two by themselves. There’s a weird kind of combination that goes on…. These flavors don’t exist in either of the two beers, but somehow when they come together they create the new nuances….”

So, I guess, at times, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And to state the obvious, parties gain more by working together or collaborating than working alone or in opposition to each other.

Undoubtedly, the implications in this story call for much further discussion… over a beer!

. . .Just something to think about!


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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