Here’s cheers to the champions of any brewer’s right to make a radler and call it a radler

Bugger... I should have stuck to the radlers.

Alf enjoys a good scrap between a David and a Goliath. He is apt to put his money on Goliath but his heart is with David.

Another such scrap looms in the week ahead, apparently, when DB Breweries is challenged over its right to use a generic beer term.

DB Breweries has been making Monteiths Radler since 2001 and has laid claim to the rights to use the word “radler”.

But beer lovers reckon this is like trying a claim the rights to words like ale and shandy.

Alf wrote about the brouhaha two years ago.

Notwithstanding DB’s economic importance in the Tararua district – they run the Tui brewery just up the road from here in Pahiatua – the buggers deserve to get their comeuppance on the matter of “radler”.

The heavyweight brewer has flexed its muscle and stopped micro-brewer Green Man from using the term “radler” on one of its beers. DB says it trademarked the name in 2003.


The Society of Beer Advocates at that time was complaining that the term ‘radler’ originates in Germany and secretary Greig McGill said they believed the term was generic, as is stout or draught.

Alf grumbled –

Next bloody thing we know, DB will be wanting protected use of words like beer, ale, lager and pilsner.

If this bullshit had been reported on 1 April, Alf would have laughed it off as a jape.

But the corporate bullies at DB have a track record for this sort of nonsense…

Today Alf has learned that the The Society of Beer Advocates and DB Breweries will meet on Wednesday in a hearing before the Intellectual Property Office to dispute the meaning of “radler” and whether it can be trademarked.

A Blenheim-based beer lover, Geoff Griggs, is leading the charge.

According to the Herald on Sunday –

… Griggs argues the term is a generic name for a beer diluted with lemonade – a style that dates back hundreds of years.

“DB is not producing an authentic radler. The whole point is that it has a lesser alcohol content,” he said.

DB Breweries argues the word only became part of New Zealand lingo because of the Monteiths product.

The hearing has been set down for three days.

Alf has one quarrel with the HoS account.

He does not dispute the claim that “radler” is generic.

But he doubts it goes back hundreds of years. And he wonders if Grigg actually said so.

Wikipedia says –

The Radler (“cyclist”) is a Biermischgetränk that has a long history in German-speaking regions. It consists of a 50:50 or 60:40 mixture of beer and German-style soda pop or lemonade.

Wikipedia says the invention of the Radler has been widely attributed to the Munich gastronomer Franz Xaver Kugler in 1922.

However, the recipe for the Radler had been mentioned as early as 1912. Nowadays the Radler is drunk not only in Bavaria but in all of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

During the summer months, the Radler is very popular due to its reputation of being a thirst-quencher.

The German Beer Institute has a slab of information about a RADLERMASS, also known – it says – as Radler, Alsterwasser or Alster.

It says –

This drink originated in Bavaria in the early 20th century, but it is now bottled and canned premixed and available in all of Germany.

It goes on to say –

On your next trip to Germany, try a Radlermass if you are in the south of the country or an Alsterwasser, if you are in the north. And when you do, savor the beverage’s peculiar story:

The drink was invented in the Roaring Twenties by Franz Xaver Kugler, a fellow who is as home-grown a Bavarian as pretzels and lederhosen.

Herr Kugler was a railroad worker turned innkeeper who opened his watering hole, the Kugleralm (meaning: Kugler’s alpine meadow), toward the end of the nineteenth century in a little place called Deisenhofen, some 12 miles outside Munich.

When, after World War I, bicycle riding became a popular pastime in Germany, Herr Kugler arranged for the construction of a bike trail through the forest, from Munich straight to his establishment—only to get himself into trouble…almost.

He had not planned for what businessmen call the up-side risk, when, on a fine Saturday in June 1922, some 13,000 cyclists descended upon the Kugleralm and demanded beer. They almost depleted Franz Xaver’s stock of brew.

The Kugleralm without beer would have been a catastrophe! But the quick-thinking innkeeper had a bright idea.

He had several thousand bottles of clear lemon soda in his cellar, a beverage that had proven virtually unsaleable to his beer-loving Bavarian public.

To save the day, and to get rid of what he considered some useless inventory, he mixed this lemon soda with his remaining beer at a 50/50 ratio and proudly declared that he had invented this concoction deliberately just for the cyclists so that they would not fall off their bikes on their way home.

He called the mixture a Radlermass (Radler means cyclist in German, Mass means a liter of beer). In Herr Kugler’s case, need became the mother of invention.

Thus was created what is perhaps the Bavarian equivalent of the British shandy (which is a mixture of beer and ginger beer). Herr Kugler’s “cyclist’s liter” quickly became so popular in Munich that other beer gardens saw themselves compelled to offer the same mixture as well.

The new drink became a lasting success, and to this day, you can still buy Radlermass in beer stores all over Germany, and the Kugleralm is still going strong as a beer garden with seating for over 2,000 guests.

Alf is quite capable of mixing the drink at home, which he does when Mrs Grumble fancies a thirst-quencher.

Mix equal portions of pilsner or lager and lemonade in a pitcher, add a few ice cubes and stir.

Mrs Grumble finds it especially refreshing after an exhausting day of lawn mowing, hedge clipping and garden digging while Alf is busy meeting constituents down at the Eketahuna Club.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: