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.