Friday, 28 September 2012

Lager Beer - the Rights of British Brewers

Don't say that I didn't warn about this Lager shit. It'll run and run. And that's only with the stuff I've already harvested. If I take the combine down the archive fields again I won't have room in the silo for it all.

This is the sort of argument that still goes on. Bavarian brewers took the Dutch Bavaria Brouwerij to court for selling beer under the brand name "Bavaria" in Germany. I think they have a point. It is a bit of a cheek calling beer brewed in Holland Bavaria beer.

Under the Merchandise Marks Act, the question whether British brewers had a right to use the word "Munich" in describing a Lager beer brewed this country, or at any place other than Munich, again came before the North London magistrate on Saturday.

One case was remitted for trial at the request of the defendant.

In the second case John Oliver, of 37, Nightingale-lane, Lower East Smithfield, the London representative of Messrs. J. and R. Tennant Ltd., brewers, of Glasgow, was summoned for selling with a false trade description, namely Munich beer." Mr. Muir prosecuted, and Mr. Bodkin defended.

For the prosecution it was stated that three dozen bottles of "Munich" beer, labelled "J. and R. Tennant's Munich beer, Well Park Brewery, Glasgow," were purchased. In the centre of the label was Messrs. Tennant's well-known trade mark. this label the prosecution was founded. A price list Messrs. Tennant produced reproduced "fac-simile" of the labels, with the addition, "Brewed Scotland."

Mr. Bodkin submitted that no case had been made out, and the price list showed the labels which were used for export only. The law, he said, did not require that admittedly British brewers' beer should have the place of brewing stated on the label if the beer were sold for consumption in this country.

Mr. the magistrate, remarked that no one could be misled by the label issued by Messrs. Tennant. They sold Glasgow "Munich" beer, and made no pretence that the beer was brewed in Munich, any place other than Glasgow. He should dismiss the summons, with ten guineas costs.

In the case remitted for trial, the beer, it is alleged, was brewed in Amsterdam, forwarded to London, whence it was distributed to customers as Munich, Pilsener, and other German beers, according to the different brews."
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 19 June 1905, page 8.
I'm sure you've noticed the glaring error in this report. They've misspelled Tennent as Tennant. It's not the first time I've come across that. It can be very confusing at times, seeing as there was a brewery in Sheffield that really was called Tennant.

It's also a bit confusing the way two cases are mixed up together in the piece. The first is odd. I'd heard about beer being re-exported and this confirms it. I can't help wondering which Amsterdam brewery had supplied the beer. There are only really two candidates: Amstel and Heineken.

Tennent's Munich beer. I'd love to see the label. As it said the beer had been brewed in Scotland I can't see how Tennent could really be prosecuted for selling with a false trade description. Munich suffered the same fate as Pilsen, except a few decades earlier. Munich and Münchner were used as generic terms to describe a type of beer rather than a place of origin. Many Dutch breweries were still brewing a Münchner in the 1950's.

As you can see from the label at the top of this post, British brewers weren't prevented from plastering "Munich Beer" all over their labels.

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