Advertising ban

Ruling Has Beer Brewers Foaming

bier  BierBike GmbH, Reuters, Dpa, Picture Alliance,
There's always time for a cold one.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Tuesday’s court ruling banning a small brewer from calling its beer “wholesome” is being closely watched by the country’s giant beer industry because a number of other brewers use that term to sell their amber nectar.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • A German court ruled on Tuesday that a small German brewery cannot use the word “wholesome” to describe its beer because that breaks a law forbidding firms to praise alcoholic drinks as healthy.
    • The brewery, Clemens Härle, has said it will appeal against the ruling.
    • The European Court of Justice in 2012 made a similar ruling against German winemakers.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Plutarch, the ancient Greek philosopher, liked beer. “Among beverages beer is the most useful, among medicines the most tasteful and among foods the most pleasant,” he wrote.

Were the philosopher alive today, he might question the wisdom of a court ruling that has sent ripples of disquiet through the country’s proud beer industry.

The district court in the southern German city of Ravensburg decided the Clemens Härle brewery from the nearby town of Leutkirch can no longer use the word “bekömmlich,” a term with a number of possible English translations including “wholesome,” “digestible,” “pleasant” or “agreeable,” to advertise its beer.

The century-old brewery, which described its beer as “bekömmlich” on its website, argued the word meant its beer was good for one’s well-being.

But the Berlin-based Federation for Social Competition, a private organization committed to fighting unfair business practices, said the term implied that the beer had health benefits. Advertising alcoholic drinks on that basis is against the European Union’s Health Claims Directive that forbids health-related advertising for alcoholic drinks.

The Ravensburg court agreed. The small brewery, with just 30 employees, will fight Tuesday’s ruling, which confirmed a temporary injunction imposed in June.

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