What they did not realize is that Sam Adams is also the name of the candidate - and has been since before the beer hit the market.
The Portland Sam Adams, a mild-mannered bicycle rider, is a far cry from the Boston Sam Adams, a patriot, brewer, rabble-rouser and business flop of Revolutionary War times. The second cousin to former U.S. President John Adams inherited the brewery, and it failed several years later.
When Portland Mayor Tom Potter said he would not seek re-election last month, City Commissioner Sam Adams jumped into the nonpartisan race. So far he is the only candidate.
Enterprising local radio hosts Mark Mason and Dave Anderson registered the Web addresses www.samadamsformayor.com and www.mayorsamadams.com, promising to give them to Adams if he discussed his political future on their show. Adams did.
The letter from Boston Beer Co. came to Anderson last week.
"Boston Beer has used the trademarks SAM ADAMS and SAMUEL ADAMS since 1984," said the letter, which asked Anderson to surrender the Web sites.
The radio hosts have responded by broadcasting the sound of a listener pouring Sam Adams beer in the toilet.
Portland's Sam Adams is both amused and concerned. His campaign staff consulted lawyers Tuesday.
The slogan "Sam Adams for Portland Mayor" is already on his Web site (www.samforpdx.com) and soon may grace yard signs and bumper stickers for the 2008 election.
"They say they've been using this trademark since 1984," Adams said. "I've been using it since 1963."
Boston Beer's Helen Bornemann said she did not know there was a real Sam Adams running for mayor when she sent the letter.
The brewery has previously run "Sam Adams for President" marketing campaigns, albeit 200 years late. She said she feared someone was copying the advertisements.
Bornemann said she is willing to discuss Adams' use of his name on his Web sites "probably for the length of the time the election is being held."