It seemed like a harmless idea.
Nathan and Sara Reilly are a couple of Sounders fans who own Three Magnets Brewing Co. in Olympia. Since opening in 2014, they’ve made a point of showing Sounders matches in the taproom, even when they’re up against more popular sporting events.
As the Rave Green began its playoff march toward Saturday’s MLS Cup, Three Magnets debuted a new beer in its popular Juice series of hazy IPA dedicated to their favorite squad. Dubbed Deuce Juice, the one-off beer was a nod Sounders star Clint Dempsey, whose nickname is “Deuce.” While Three Magnets fans quickly snatched it off shelves, Deuce Juice was less popular with MLS lawyers, who cordially (and not surprisingly) sent the brewery a cease-and-desist letter, claiming copyright infringement. Just before a second batch was about to be released, Three Magnets changed the name to #EBFG Juice, borrowing a hashtag used by hard-core Sounders fans that stands for Eternal Blue, Forever Green.
Apparently, this did not go over well with some vocal members of the Sounders Twitterati, as the Sounder at Heart blog first reported. Some fans accused the brewery of “appropriating the culture of Sounders fans,” as Nate Reilly described it, without consent.
— Mark El Tigre (@SSFCFOTY13) November 29, 2017
Whelp. Just lost me as a customer.
— Jesse (@Emerald0013) November 29, 2017
After the story ran, many more Sounders fans chimed in on social media sticking up for Three Magnets, which from the sounds of it, has a history of supporting Sounders fandom. Commenting in a Reddit thread about the beery backlash, Reilly posted a looooong explanation of how the controversial beer came to be. In it, Reilly notes how he and his wife always wanted to run a soccer bar and how they’ve actively courted fans at their brewpub, becoming the official home of the Olympia chapter of Sounders fan group Emerald City Supporters.
“We’ve literally had customers storm out mid meal because there were two people watching a soccer match and we wouldn’t put on Monday Night Football,” Reilly wrote.
As he tells it, when Portland Timbers fans started mocking Deuce Juice on Twitter, Sounders fans came to the beer’s defense, often using the #EBFG hashtag. So when Three Magnets had to change the name shortly before the next round of labels were printed, #EBFG “seemed like the obvious choice.”
Commenting on the Sounder at Heart post and social media, the purported creators of the phrase and hashtag seem to have no problem with the #EBFG brew, suggesting this whole thing—which has made national news—got out of hand quickly. (According to Reilly, Dempsey's brother caught wind of the beer and reached out about getting some.)
Nevertheless, Reilly apologized to any fans who “felt appropriated,” saying they won’t use the hashtag again on any future brews.
Let this weird saga be a lesson to any local breweries considering making an Oud (Will) Bruin: A fun, cheeky beer name supporting your favorite sports team might not be worth the hassle.