FARGO — There's a new game in town — and no, it doesn't involve stadium seating, overpriced hot dogs or huge crowds.
Oh no, all you need for this game is a hammer, a few nails, some wood and a brew or two of your choosing, and it's now officially in North Dakota after setting up at a south Fargo brewery.
The game isn't as easy as one may think, though. In order to win, players must hit a nail into a wood stump in one motion with the "skinny side" of a hammer. With a cold beer in hand, it can be even more difficult than expected to drive the nail home — and that competitive simplicity has made Hammer-Schlagen a popular activity among backyard cookouts, tailgating and Oktoberfest celebrations.
It's officially described as a "three-dimensional trademark comprised of a cylindrical cross-section of a tree with nails positioned around the outer circumference of its upward facing flat circular surface and a cross-peen hammer." Any old circle of wood and nails could do, but that's where people can get into trouble.
Brand recognition is a big deal, and with such common items being used to play, the folks at WRB Inc. found a way to make sure they continue to be recognized by trademarking Hammer-Schlagen, their nail-driving competition.
"I was at an Oktoberfest in 2017 and they had Hammer-Schlagen," says Don Kenna, owner and chief brewer at Prairie Brothers Brewing Co., 4474 23rd Ave. S. "I thought, 'Well, that's so simple, we should put this in the brewery,' so we did. We got a message from Hammer-Schlagen that said we needed to be licensed to use it, it's trademarked, please stop using our trademarked material until you get licensed."
After filling out the proper paperwork, Stillwater, Minn.-based WRB Inc. granted Prairie Brothers a license to play their heavily trademarked game at the brewery — making them the first in the state of North Dakota to be licensed to do so.
"I didn't even know we were the first and only one to be legally licensed to have Hammer-Schlagen," Kenna says. "The Hammer-Schlagen guys never told me that. They were like, 'Here you go!'"
The brewery isn't thinking about adding Hammer-Schlagen leagues at the moment, but Kenna says tournaments are in the works.
"We are planning on having tournaments," he says. "We have to figure out the details of how they're going to run, but we also want to do fundraisers, like for Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue or the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation. We will have it available for people to buy a nail and play, and all of that money we will send to the group."