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Backward move in brewers' blue

BY TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 25/05/2009
CARYS MONTEATH/The Press
STRONG WORDS: Manager Kim Barron of The Thirsty Bloke Bottle Store in Christchurch is far from happy that DB has trademarked the Radler type of beer.

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In keeping with its politically incorrect style, the latest offering from Westcoast Brewing Company is solely designed to raise the hackles of DB Breweries.

Brewing giant DB trademarked the beer term "radler" in 2003 and earlier this year forced boutique Dunedin brewer Green Man to rename its radler beer.

The move angered many in the industry and led to national group Society of Beer Advocates (Soba) filing a legal application with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (Iponz) to overturn DB's trademark.

Radler is a style of beer, like lager or draught, and has its origins in Bavaria.

Westcoast Brewing Company chief executive Paddy Sweeney was unhappy with DB's actions too. He has figured out a way around the trademark issue.

The maker of the Good Bastards and organic Green Fern brands of beer has produced its own version of a radler, which was typically a shandy, but has called it Reldar Radler spelt backwards.

Sweeney has not stopped there in his attack against DB. He has put a sign up outside his Thirsty Bloke Bottle Shop in Christchurch saying former West Coast MP Damien O'Connor "might have been right when he called DB deceitful bastards".

O'Connor made the comment last year after DB supported a wildfoods festival in Christchurch, which rivalled the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.

The Reldar is being sold in two-litre bottles for a limited time.

DB marketing general manager Clare Morgan said she would rather not comment on Sweeney's activities, but wanted to point out that DB welcomed competition and had a longstanding, positive involvement with small brewers around the country.

She said DB had two months to respond to Soba's application and was working through the legal process.

"We welcome reasonable dialogue around our trademark and look forward to Iponz's decision which we anticipate to be at least six months away."

Westcoast Brewing Ltd was attempting to raise $5 million to build two new breweries and expand export markets.

It raised $3 million last year and since then has opened its first bottle shop, acquired a bar in Woolston, completed the West Coast Bar and Grill in Papanui and upgraded equipment at its Westport brewery.

Sweeney said $300,000 had been raised in the month since the prospectus was released.

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