Breweries in ‘hells’ lager high court battle

A brewery is being taken to court by Camden Town Brewery in a dispute over its “Hells Lager” brand, turning to crowdfunding to fund its £30,000 legal costs.

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Camden Town Brewery’s Hells Lager

Camden Town Brewery has issued High Court papers accusing Norwich-based Redwell Brewery of “passing off” its “Hells Lager” by launching its own “Hells Lager” in 2014. While Camden Town Brewery used the term first, Redwell has defended its use stressing that “hells” is a German term for a light lager.

Redwell claims the term “hells”, or “helles”, dates from the 19th Century and is used by more than 35 brewers in the UK, Germany, USA and elsewhere.

In a message posted on its website, a spokesperson for the Redwell Brewery said: “Camden’s High Court claim states that they invented Hells which quite simply from all the research on simple things like ratebeer.com you can see is not true. If they win, they will think they can stop every other UK brewery from using the word Hells as a descriptor for light lager or in any other manner a brewery chooses, whatever the brewer’s name that always accompanies it. We are therefore fighting this claim and need help so that we do not have to cut jobs at the brewery.”

The costs of fighting the claim are expected to be more than £30,000, with the brewery launching a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the funds last week to avoid it from going “bankrupt”.

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Redwell’s Hells Lager

The brewery added: “Why we have brought this matter out in the open is because going to High Court is very expensive and fighting this does leave the brewery in a very uncomfortable position. We at the brewery are all agreed that it is the correct course of action to fight the fight that Camden have brought to our door and in fact Camden gave us no choice but to fight it as once they issued High Court papers had we not responded they would have won a default judgement if we did not respond to their claim. This would have bankrupted the brewery with the amount of money they are trying to sue us for.”

Camden Town Brewery declined to comment on the case when approached by the drinks business. The brewery has so far raised £1,410 of its £30,000 target with 24 days of the campaign left to go.

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