The Beer Battle for 420

Sweetwater Brewing Company
Sweetwater has asked Lagunitas to refrain from using the number 420 in any of its brands.

In this corner, Sweetwater Brewing Company. In the other corner, Lagunitas Brewing Company. Both have 420 beer brands. But only one can use 420 in the title.

Atlanta's Sweetwater has been brewing its 420 Extra Pale Ale since 1997. The company also has a brand called Dank Tank and hosts a music festival around 4/20.

Lagunitas, based in Petaluma, California, doesn't have a 420 brew but has been known to use the stoner-friendly number in association with part-time brands like The Waldo's Special Ale, a.k.a. Waldo's 420. A group of friends who attended San Rafael High in the early '70s, "The Waldos" are credited with creating 420, which is a code for smoking marijuana.

On July 8, Lagunitas received a cease and desist letter from Sweetwater claiming they have a federal trademark on the number 420, and asking Lagunitas to no longer use 420 with any of their brands.

"For da record, I'd never call a beer 420 anything - just stuck it here & there, sometimes hid it," Lagunitas founder Tony Magee tweeted. "No problem, I think we outgrew it anyway, but it is what I do. Hope you do too. Long live the Waldos."

In the past, Lagunitas was rebuffed by authorities when they tried to name a brand Kronick. Instead, they sarcastically renamed the Copper Ale to Censored.

Lagunitas also hosts a live music series called Jam in the Van.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.