So, we have two breweries making a similar product at the same abv with the same name. I can see that the brewery who have been using the name longer might be a bit upset, especially when they have worked as hard as Camden and spent as much money on building a real powerhouse of a brand.
The nub of it seems to be an argument of lexicon. I don’t speak enough German to accurately report on whether Redwell’s assertion that helles, hells and hell are all interchangeable in terms of meaning. Thinking about it, I have ordered light coloured speciality malt called ‘carahell’ malt from Wayermann in the past so I suppose it must. That aside, I’d argue that Helles, hells and hell are not in most average beer drinker’s lexicon. Helles is probably the most recognisable word to beer drinkers, but I’d argue only to a small wedge of clued up drinkers. Why would Redwell want to muddy the waters for punters who are probably already unaware or unclear as to what any of the terms mean? The only thing I can think is that they are trying to ride on the coat-tails of Camden. Punters may well have had a pint of Camden Hells in London, in the surrounding areas, in a can from Majestic or in a bottle from Waitrose. They see the same word ‘hells’ and assume it is the same type of thing.
Redwell and Camden both have previous on issues of this type. Redwell were issued a cease and desist by Red Bull which, frankly was ridiculous as they are making totally different products. Redwell naturally won that battle. Camden have also thrown their weight about in the past over fairly unimportant and irrelevant use of words similar to their name. Once with Brodies, once with Weird Beard. In both cases, Camden handled it poorly and ended up looking like idiots. I think this is different . Redwell got lots of nice press out of the whole Red Bull issue and they know Camden have handled stuff like this badly in the past. Redwell can pose as the little, wronged guy whilst comparing Camden to big bully-boy breweries like Molson Coors, etc. Redwell have nothing to lose in this situation really, Camden do.
Redwell state that losing the Waitrose contract is one of the main reasons for asking them to stop using the word ‘hells’, almost sneeringly, as if to say ‘look at how huge they are, they supply a supermarket, what a bunch of sellouts’. For Camden it is a legitimate and large concern. Waitrose is a great card to have in your hand with regards to getting your beer to the public. Not only that, in terms of ease, running a brewery, it is a nice little tickover for cashflow and volume. Waitrose will be buying large numbers of pallets of packaged beer regularly, they organise the logistics, they pay on time every month. A big deal if Waitrose delist them.
Whether or not Camden can get the term Hells trademarked or not is a moot point. Redwell chose to omit an ‘E’ from the name, I dare say knowing full well it would upset Camden. For Redwell, it will generate press and, by the end of the week they’ll have backed down and added an ‘E’ to the name. In the meantime, how about we go to the pub, have a nice cold pint and wait for this to all blow over?