Food & Drink

German beer no longer bekömmlich

A German court has decided that a century-old brewery is not allowed to refer to its beer as “bekömmlich” or “wholesome” because the description implies it is healthy.  The judgment could set a precedent for the German beer industry.

The court in Stuttgart ruled that the Clemens Härle brewery in the south-western German town of Leutkirch cannot use the term “bekömmlich,” – which also translates as “digestible,” or “agreeable” – to describe its beer.

Berlin-based VSW, a private organization that fights unfair business practices, brought the case last year, arguing that “bekömmlich” connotes health benefits and that health-related advertising for alcoholic beverages is counter to EU law.

A lower court in Ravensburg had already ruled that the term was not permissible, but the brewery appealed that decision.

In 2012, the European Court of Justice ruled that a winemaking cooperative from the state of Rhineland Palatinate could not use the word “bekoemmlich” in its advertising.  The cooperative argued that its use of the term was appropriate because its wine undergoes a natural process to reduce acidity.

German beer wholesome ingredients


Of course, this is not the first time a brewery has had to alter its advertising. The old advertising slogan ‘Guinness is good for you’ was stopped some time ago.

The original campaign in the 1920s stemmed from market research – when people told the company that they felt good after their pint, the slogan was born.  In England, post-operative patients used to be given Guinness, as were blood donors, based on the belief that it was high in iron.  Pregnant women and nursing mothers were at one stage advised to drink Guinness – the present advice is against this.

While Diageo, who own and manufacture Guinness today, make no health claims for the product it seems that researchers at the University of Wisconsin may have discovered proof that a pint of Guinness a day is actually good for your health.

The Wisconsin team tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager by giving it to dogs who had narrowed arteries similar to those in heart disease.  They found that those given the Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood, but not those given lager.

The researchers told a convention of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Florida, that a pint of Guinness taken at meal time had the best impact.  They believe that antioxidant compounds in the Guinness are responsible for the health benefits because they decrease harmful cholesterol gathering on the artery walls.

It is unclear whether the the Clemens Härle brewery will file another appeal, which would place the decision in the hands of the Federal Court of Justice.

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