The Shamen once sang that ‘E’s are good/E’s sublime/E makes you feel fine’. Now I couldn’t possibly publicly endorse the use of illegal recreational drugs, but I can’t help feeling if the addition of the letter ‘E’ was deployed in a current situation, a big problem would just go away. Though, as an aside, a little of the chemically induced empathy would probably grease the wheels too.
I have waited a couple of days after the news broke that Camden are taking Redwell to high court over the use of the term ‘Hells’. I didn’t initially want to write about it as I’m fairly certain Redwell want press out of the situation, nothing else, but I feel like I ought to throw my opinion into the ring. I wrote about the situation here and still stand by what I said, but with the escalation of things I think things have become a little clearer as to who the villians are.
Redwell are sticking by the argument that ‘Hells’ has been in use for a long time, and is a commonly known term. They also state that all you need to do to verify this is to look on Ratebeer. I looked on Ratebeer, and there are two other beers with ‘Hells’ without an apostrophe as part of their name one German, one Swiss. I again asked two German brewer friends of mine and a native German speaker, none of whom had ever heard of ‘Hells’ as a descriptor for pale lager. Hell or Helles are the choices. Hardly a convincing argument to my mind.
Camden have, I’m sure sought some pretty heavyweight advice as to this situation. They have familial links with the vice president of legal affairs for Sony Entertainment and the owner and founder of one of the most highly regarded advertising agencies in the country, if not the world. If it goes to court, I’m pretty certain Redwell won’t get very far.
Putting the legal side of who is wrong, who is right and who owns what for a minute, my biggest issue is how Redwell have dealt with the situation. They have, from the very beginning cast Camden as the bully boy big brewer, throwing their weight and Scrooge McDuck mountains of cash around, which is pretty unfair. Camden isn’t really a big brewery, they are the third largest in London, quite a way behind Meantime and Fullers. Compare them to the multinational and regional family brewers, they are a drop in the ocean. That is part of it, however, the bit that has really upset me is that Redwell, after portraying Camden as the bad guys have set up crowdfunding for their legal costs as, they claim that paying the £30,000 legal fees will jeopardise jobs at the brewery. I can’t get my head round how a right minded person would potentially risk their business and, put the people who work for them at risk too. It is a bit like betting on a horse with the mortgage money then asking your mates to bail you out when the bailiffs come knocking. Hardly responsible or grown up behaviour.
Redwell named their beer ‘Hells’ I don’t doubt in full knowledge that it would raise Camden’s hackles. This is a problem they have created. It is their duty to make it go away. For their reputation, for the reputation of the small brewery business in the UK and, most importantly for the security of their staff. Hells is Camden’s best selling beer, Hells is Redwell’s smallest selling, it wouldn’t harm them to take The Shamen’s advice and pop an E in, I’m sure they’d feel better for it.