German breweries can’t call their beer ‘wholesome’, court rules

Breweries in Germany can no longer call their beer ‘wholesome’ after the country’s Federal Court of Justice banned Clemens Härle Brewery from using the word ‘bekömmlich’ on its labels.

German beer blog Hopfen Liebe created a t-shirt to symbolise the censorship.

In a ruling yesterday (17 May) the German Federal Court of Justice banned use of the term ‘bekömmlich’ by a brewery based in southern Germany.

Clemens Härle Brewery, which has used the term in its advertising since around 1900, took the matter to Germany’s highest court after being challenged in a series of legal battles by the Association of Social-Minded Competition (VSW).

‘Bekömmlich’ roughly translates as ‘easily digestible’ or ‘wholesome’ in English. The VSW argued that use of the term was misleading and contrary to EU regulation governing alcohol advertising.

Owner of the brewery, Gottfried Härle told the court: “My great-grandfather described his beer as wholesome. Enjoying beer in moderation is absolutely wholesome”.

However, the court disagreed, upholding a previous ruling that found that the word implied the beer had health benefits, which is against the law.

This is not the first time that a court has stopped the use of the word on alcohol labelling. In 2012 the EU Court of Justice banned German wine cooperative Deutsches Weintor, based in Rheinland-Pfalz, from using the term on its ‘Mild’ range.

Responding to the ruling at the time, Jürgen Grallath of Weintor said: “We regret the decision of the European Court. In our view, the term ‘wholesome’ is not a health claim, but merely a description of well-being associated with wine enjoyment”.

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