The deviousness of DB Breweries

A story has emerged over the last few days that one of NZ largest breweries, DB Breweries, have somehow managed to copyright the term “radler”.

Now, for the non-beer-fanatics among you, a radler is a style of beer, just as lagers, ales, bitters etc are a style of beer. Radlers originated in Germany, and it is a low-alcohol drink similar to a shandy.

Quite a few breweries around the world produce beers in the radler style, including the Green Man brewery in Dunedin, and DB’s Monteith’s brewery.

I don’t think an Australian breweries make it because, let’s be honest, it’s a shit drink. If a sheila insists on a shandy, she has lemonade mixed with whatever’s on tap. End of story.

But that’s beside the point.

Now, you may think it’s no big deal. Two breweries making a certain style of beer and naming it as such, right? Happens all the time. Just about any brewery makes a lager, a bitter, a pale ale, a stout.

But no, in this case DB have somehow managed to copyright the word “radler”, and have let their legal heavies loose on Green Man, threatening all sorts of unpleasantness unless they stop calling their beer a radler. Which they have, changing it to “Green Man Cyclist” (radler is German for cyclist. Obviously cyclists like weak beer. Unlike mountain bikers. But I digress).

Basically Green Man can’t be arsed fighting the legal threats, and have chosen the path of least resistance. Fair enough, it’s hard enough for a craft brewery to turn a profit as it is.

DB are the people responsible for Tui, BTW. Due to that fact alone, they deserve not a moment’s sympathy.

Anyway, hopefully my ramblings have made it clear that this is a gross injustice. To use an analogy probably more familiar to NZ readers, if a winery copyrighted the word “chardonnay” and then threatened legal action against anyone else calling their wine chardonnay, there would be uproar (and yes I know all about the champagne naming issue, but the point remains).

DB have exploited the ignorance of the NZ intellectual property people with regards to an obscure beer style to somehow squeeze this through. Which is amazing in itself: surely their first thing they would do would be to google the word being copyrighted?

So anyway, to cut a very long story short, the crew from RealBeer NZ are calling for a boycott on DB products. However, I don’t think this is the most effective way to teach DB a lesson, as it presumes that educated beer drinkers buy their products in the first place (yes I know a couple of Monteiths beers are passable, but they’re not exactly wonderful).

So, forget about the boycott. Instead, grab a sux-peck of one of Green Man’s brews tonight.

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23 Comments

  1. admin said

    And to make it even more laughable, Monteith’s Radler, at around 5% alc/vol, isn’t even a proper radler.

  2. Paul said

    But Monteith’s Radlers yummy thou, in between my appletinis

  3. admin said

    The Do-not-drink list has been released: http://www.soba.org.nz/node/152

    Didn’t know DB did Murphy’s. Pity. Hope they haven’t screwed it as much as they have Heineken.

  4. admin said

    So, Paul likes appletinis.

    Repeat after me people: “and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    Good.

  5. Luke said

    Do a search on http://www.ratebeer.com to see how many ‘Radler’s’ there are or even this search

    http://tinyurl.com/cs22u7

  6. bcg said

    They could have tried the German word “Radfahrer” which is a related word and but far less gentle than radler (one of the few “gentle sounding” words in the hun dialect). But barking orders for one of those in a pub might make it look as though you’re about to invade Poland.

    So, after scratching your toothbrush moustache, then palming your dropping fringe to one side scream:
    EIN GROSSEN RADFAHRER. SCHNELL SCHNELL SCHNELL!!!

    (and be presented with a large man wearing lycra probably)

  7. Kerry said

    Won’t be hard. Discovered Green Man in Dunedin at Xmas. Like them all but its one very very expensive drop at New World in Greenmeadows. bcg… Paul Henry says I ‘m not allowed a moustache!

  8. admin said

    Kerry, even on a beer drinking lady, the only moustache in sight should be from the beer foam.

  9. Kerry said

    LOL! Beer drinking lady…thats an oxymoron.

  10. Bondiboy66 said

    Actually there is an Australian made radler -Barefoot Radler. I tried some, not knowing what ‘radler’ was. Well it sure didn’t taste like beer…lolly water was closer to the mark. In short, 1/2 a star purely because it was cold, wet and vaguely alcoholic.

  11. Barefoot Radler calls to mind that old line from Monty Python – this is a bottle with a message in, and the message is ‘beware’.

    Boags, the northern TAS brewer, also do a citrus influenced beer called St George which is marginally better.

  12. Suzi Thirlwall said

    Hey – people could show DB their disapproval by not buying their brands. I sent them email telling them will no longer buy Monteiths or Amstel (our two brands). Switching back to Macs and boutique beers. Good one name forgotten en route New Plymouth who courier for reasonable cost. (White Hills??) We are not Americans whose companies seem very bullying! DB needs to do their research.

  13. admin said

    Would that be Whitecliffs? (http://www.organicbeer.co.nz/)

    Looks like it’s hard to get hold of, but wouldn’t mind trying the lager. $60 per carton (330mL stubbies grrr) + $6 courier. Maybe I’ll give it a try some time.

  14. Suzi said

    Could be – going that way next weekend – will confirm after – but it was very good! You’re right about cost – wonder what the Green Man radler was? This controversy has made me aware of need to look into background of products I support. I think NZ a fab country with “feel good”principles/attitudes which stuff like this spoils. At least I can walk with my wallet??

  15. admin said

    Suzi,

    Yep I’m still getting familiar with the “who-owns-what” here. Didn’t know DB made Monteiths, for example.

    There do seem to be a few micro-brewers scattered around the place, so I’m going to try to uncover a few good ones.

  16. Greig said

    There’s a great list of nz micros here: http://www.realbeer.co.nz/nz_breweries/

    It’s a crying shame that this country is so locked down by the big two that very few people have heard of the great craft breweries we have. If you’re based in Auckland, I can’t recommend Galbraiths and Hallertau enough. Maybe give the Shakespeare a miss though, or at least go in with low expectations. They can still be great sometimes. :)

  17. admin said

    Hi Greig,

    Yeah it’s exactly the same in Aus, but there are still good beers to be found among the “mega” brewers. Not the least of which is Coopers, a South Australian brewery that’s still family-owned. They do a fantastic Pale Ale (not in the English bitter style – it’s a pale fruity number, and beautiful). Also do a Sparkling Ale which, at 5.8%, is great for Autumn, and a stout which is simply magnificent – think coffee mixed with the contents of an ash-tray, but awesome. Definitely puts hairs on your chest.

    Also (and I’m probably biased) Boags Premium is a pretty okay pilsener, as is Cascade Premium. Finally, Cascade Pale Ale is, for a relatively cheap everyday beer, a top drop.

    Anyway, thanks for the link, I’ll try to sample a few. Another commented has recommended Whitecliffs from down Palmerston North way – any comments on that one?

  18. Scott said

    Well … I like Monteiths Radler … so eat shit and die …!

  19. Suzi said

    A few interesting recommendations I see – thanks Greig for website. Went to New Plymouth and into the brewery there. Whitecliffs sign on road but rebranded as Mike’s – same owner but for change for clarity as one product was formerly called Mike’s ale. He also does kegs and has them in a few places but these not allowed where the Big Brewery “mafia” have control (eg airport!). Can check out at http://www.organicbeer.co.nz. Its cheaper to buy if you go into the brewery. Nice genuine people I thought.

  20. Truekiwijoker said

    Say what you want, Australian beer is the 2nd worse beer int eh world after China’s.

    India and Japan do beer better than Australia.

    The best beer Australia has to offer barely passes for average anywhere else.

  21. Truekiwijoker said

    Coopers is terrible. Montieths, Mac’s and even Steinlager beats it hands down.

    Why don;t you drink some of those Czech beers to find out what good beer actually is?

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  23. Manti said

    That is really retarded, copyrighting a german term used to classify a kind of light alcholic drink ? What do they want to do next, create their own micro brewery ? And mass market them ?

    Anyway, their solicitors were probably doing their jobs trying and helping their own heavyweight corporate players of DB to dominate the NZ market, and that isn’t actually a healthy way to bite off a chunk of their market share.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DB_Breweries

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