Craft beer brewers head to High Court in £100k ‘Hells Lager’ dispute

Hell of a battle. Camden Brewery ( bottle ) who are taking Redwell Brewery to the High Court in a '

Hell of a battle. Camden Brewery ( bottle ) who are taking Redwell Brewery to the High Court in a ' passing off ' claim against the name Hells Lager. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

A pair of craft beer brewers who have become locked in a bitter battle over the name of their lagers have failed to resolve their differences – and are set to fight it out in what could be a £100,000 do-or-die High Court brawl.

Patrick Fisher at Redwell Brewery. Photo : Steve Adams

Patrick Fisher at Redwell Brewery. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Camden Town Brewery is suing Norfolk brewer Redwell over the name it chose for a lager launched last year, claiming it was “trading on the success and reputation of our beer”.

Redwell’s Hell’s Lager is, the Kentish Town-based brewer claims, too close to the name of its own Camden Hell’s Lager which it launched back in 2010 and which has since become its most popular beer.

After the Camden brewer sent a cease and desist letter to Redwell in September, it submitted papers in December to the High Court suing the small brewer for £100,000.

Last week saw Redwell’s owner submit its own defence papers at the court.

The brewer has also chosen to rally its own drinkers to its cause by launching an online fundraiser to help it pay the £30,000 legal fees.

It has so far managed to raise more than £1,300.

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While Camden Town Brewery chose not to comment when approached by this paper, Patrick Fisher, 35, co-owner of Redwell brewery, insisted he had done “everything I could” to avoid the legal battle.

He told the Ham&High: “This is a situation that should have been able to be resolved without involving soliciters.

“I would hope that two people could sit down to talk it over and come to some sort of agreement.

“But when Camden Town Brewery submitted their High Court papers it came as a bolt from the blue.

“We struggle to see why a small regional brewery like ours – which employs nine people – is seen as such a threat to them.

“We’re not copying them. We have Swedish and Czech brewers and the name Hells is a variation of ‘Helles’ – the German name for a type of beer. Many brewers use it.

“If we lose this case it would be disastrous and could put us out of business. It’s a shame beer brewing has come to this.”

The High Court world of lawyers and litigation is a far-cry away from the humble beginnings of the Camden brewer, which was founded when Australian Jasper Cuppaidge began brewing beneath The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead.

But this is not the first time Camden Town Brewery has been keen to protect its name.

In 2013, it demanded west London brewer Weird Beard recall its “Camden BearD” collaborative creation with a bar in Camden.

Weird Beard agreed to change the name, saying it “could not afford the costs of this going to court”.

Camden Town Brewery has since submitted an application to trade mark any alcoholic drink with the name “Camden” in it.