Tag Archives: Everards

Everards to trademark Elixir Brewing Co out of existence


As the brewing industry continues to expand enormously, one of the recent trends seems to be an increase in unsavoury jostling within the market, with regard to beer names and intellectual property. Trademark disputes, unquestionably, are on the rise. British beer is ballooning in scale at the moment – only surface tension is preventing it from going truly bonkers – and over the last few months a number of high-profile disputes have taken place that have caused ripples to appear. Belleville vs AbInBev, Redwell vs Red Bull, Weird Beard vs Camden Town.

To that list, we can now add Elixir vs Everards. The Leicestershire super-regional has threatened legal action against the Scottish nanobrewery Elixir Brew Co over their pending application to trademark their brewery name. In a series of correspondence, I am led to believe that Everards have stated their ownership of the Trade Mark ‘Elixir’, and have demanded the Livingston contract brewery not only withdraw their application, but cease using the name ‘Elixir’ immediately. As I understand it, they have further demanded the withdrawal of all Elixir products from sale, in every UK market, by this Friday.

This means, with Elixir Brew Co not having the money to pursue the matter further in the courts, within three days they will cease to exist.

The reason for this action is a 3.9% summer cask seasonal – Everards Elixir, which was released in the Spring of 2012. The Leicestershire brewery have, apparently, claimed extensive use of the name – although I could find no reference to the beer on their website. According to the Intellectual Property Office, representatives acting on behalf of Everards filed a Trade Mark application for the word ‘Elixir’ on the 8th of August 2012, as one of the 78 owned by the Leicestershire brewery. Filed under Class 32 (beer, lager, ale, porter, stout, bitter), the Trade Mark was filed three days before Elixir Brew Co began their debut social media campaign on the 11th of August.

Given there is so little crossover between the two breweries, despite being in the same industry, it seems some degree of compromise could be reached; after all, the beer review site RateBeer lists 50 different beers that contain the word ‘Elixir’ (a figure which does not include those brewed by Elixir Brew Co, nor Everards Elixir). Further, the E-word is, and was in the process of being trademarked as, the Livingston producers brewery name, as opposed to a name of one of their products. Speaking of which, the first one of those – Elixir Brew Co Benedictine Groove (pictured above) has been on sale for nearly eighteen months, unopposed, until now.

Having spoken to Elixir Brew Co founder Ben Bullen, he respects – and was always willing to respect – the fact that Everards had trademarked the word, despite him registering the name as a website url on the 29th of January 2012, several months before the Leicestershire brewery released their beer. Throughout this process of dispute, to date he has received no contact from anyone at Everards – despite continued calls and letters to attempt to begin some degree of dialogue. No correspondence has been returned, with the trademark representatives of Everards issuing several multi-point letters, evidently increasingly irate in their demands (the initial letter of objection he has apparently no proof of having ever received).

Ben has since retained the services of his own legal team – at no small cost, given he is currently working several jobs to merely collate enough money to cover his brewing overheads. I think he genuinely feels steamrollered by this – particularly that following his representatives’ letter to Everards, wishing to pursue a solution that might be mutually agreeable, the Leicestershire brewery responded with an unchanged set of conditions, and only a week to comply. This refusal of Everards to even discuss their opinions in person seems to go against the individual philosophy of Chairman Richard Everard OBE “I treat people in a friendly way and am always approachable.”

Trademark disputes, and ‘cease and desist’ letters, are nothing new in business – let alone the brewing business. But as the numbers of British breweries increase to such an extent, naming disputes, however they are handled, will only increase. What shouldn’t come into it, however, is the big incessantly crushing the small, particularly if the wronged party publicly states a set of beliefs, yet conduct their position in private, from behind a barricade of solicitors. For the sake of a seasonal beer (with seven reviews on RateBeer), one company looks set to put another out of business. I guess you can only “encourage others to progress”, so far.

EDIT 04/03/2014 9:00pm
As detailed in the comment by Everards below, at around 9pm they issued a statement on their Facebook page stating “We have decided that, as the name refers to the company rather than the beer, we will not pursue this any further.” Assuming Ben Bullen receives this in writing, it shows – to a quite astonishing degree – the power of social media and how it can now influence policy in major companies. These kind of disputes, though, will still continue – and will still occur more often – but maybe outcomes like this, and the others recently, may persuade some who are thinking of putting the clamps on in a trademark battle to seek a more personal approach first, to see if differences can be overcome.

BeerCast #45 – Supermarket Sweep

Our first podcast in 2010 takes place back in our regular Edinburgh haunt, after the excitement of our BOTY Show had subsided. No 32%abv beers on offer tonight, as Grooben and MrB join Richard for a last-minute BeerCast decided on the spur of the moment. Richard dashed to Morrisons at lunchtime to come up with four beers – hence the title of the podcast (and also homage to a truly great television programme of old). First up in our aisle foraging special – Everards Tiger (4.2%) from the award-winning Leicester producer. We then move slightly south-east as we sample Wychwood’s Circle Master (4.7%), and debate it’s ‘Golden Pale Ale’ description. Our third beer is from Cumbria – Jenning’s Sneck Lifter (5.1%), and we finish on a slightly stronger note with Greene King’s vintage ale Abbot Reserve (6.5%). Stay tuned also for discussions on driving, Richard’s story about the time his Grandad almost punched Tommy Cooper, and a heartwarming tale of cross-border teen romance from MrB.

1. Everards Tiger (4.2%abv)
Everards Brewery, Leicester, Leicestershire. 500ml glass bottle

Tiger is the flagship ale from one of the East Midland’s most successful family brewers. Everard’s were established in Leicester back in 1849 when one William Everard purchased the South Street Brewery. Over the years they have expanded and developed, and today are in the hands of the fifth generation of William’s descendants. Their current home is Castle Acres in Narborough, and was purpose built to push the company into nationwide levels of production. Tiger combines Maris Otter malt with the classic British bitter combination of hops – Goldings and Fuggles.

What They Say
“A true award winning best bitter with universal appeal. Tiger Best Bitter is a classic example of getting the perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness. Crystal malt gives the beer its rounded toffee character.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – It’s not as interesting as it makes out 5
Richard – I’ve had this on cask and I liked it a lot more 5
MrB – Malty and watery with a bit of toffee 5

2. Circle Master
Wychwood Brewery, Witney, Oxfordshire. 500ml glass bottle

Wychwood are one busy brewer. Alongside their varied and expanding range of ales, they also contract brew all bottled beers put out under the Duchy Originals label, not to mention their acquisition of the troubled Brakspear. There are two brew plants at their Witney headquarters to cope with the demand, which is understandable. In 2002 (the same year they bought Brakspear), they were themselves taken over by the pithily-named Refresh UK, a subsidiary of Marstons plc. Their most popular beer is Hobgoblin, famed throughout real ale circles for it’s “…afraid you might taste something?” advertising.

What They Say
“Whole leaf target hops, naturally grown in a single garden in Kent, are added to create a beer of exceptional taste and character. The Circle Master conducts a melody of refreshing citrus and delightful malt flavour, rounded off with a spicy bittersweet finish.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – They may be stuck between two styles here 7
Grooben – There’s an extremely lingering dry aftertaste 6
MrB – Bitter and fizzy, too much like a lager 6

3. Sneck Lifter
Jennings Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria. 500ml glass bottle

Like Everards, Jennings are another 19th Century family brewer – they began in the village of Lorton, between the Cumbrian towns of Keswick and Cockermouth. In 1874 the Castle Brewery in the latter of those two towns was purchased, and Jenning’s moved to increase production. Cockermouth made global news in November 2009 when enormous floods caused by the rising rivers Cocker and Derwent inundated the town to a depth of eight feet. The Jennings Brewery – situated on Brewery Lane almost at the confluence of the two rivers – was also flooded, but has since re-opened for production.

What They Say
“In northern dialect sneck means door latch and a sneck lifter was a man’s last sixpence which enabled him to lift the latch of a pub door and buy himself a pint, hoping to meet friends there who might treat him to one or two more. This dark beer with a reddish tinge, derived from the use of coloured malts, perfectly balanced with specially formulated brewing sugars and English aromatic hops.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – I love the smokiness that gives way to bitter taste 8
MrB – Once the smokiness goes down the hops come out 7
Grooben – I didn’t expect it to be this complex 7

4. Abbot Reserve
Greene King plc, Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk. 500ml glass bottle

Greene King aren’t a family brewer – but they do have a history, as they claim to have started production in 1799 in the Suffolk town of Bury St Edmonds. Having a head start seemed to help, as they are now the largest British-owned brewery in the UK. Trading on the ftse stock exchange, they have helped their position by an aggressive series of acquisitions of smaller brewers – Morland, Ruddles and Ridleys have all been bought and closed, and they also own Dunbar’s own, Belhaven. We sampled their 5.0% flagship beer, Abbot Ale way back in BeerCast #4 in September 2007, where it scored 36/60 (60%).

What They Say“Abbot Reserve has an abv of 6.5% and is a perfect winter warmer on a cold night. It is a distinctive full-bodied smooth and mature beer, bursting with rich fruit cake and toffee flavours.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – A brown sugary blast, not offensive but not pleasing 5
Richard – Fruitcake taste but nothing else to give it substance
MrB – Gets far too sweet as it warms up

  • Listen to the episode here: BeerCast #45 – Supermarket Sweep
  • Subscribe to the podcasts in iTunes or our site feed

  • Panellists
    – (clockwise from top left) Richard, MrB, Grooben

    BeerCast panel verdict
    Jennings Sneck Lifter (22/30)
    Wychwood Circle Master (19/30)
    Everards Tiger (15/30)
    Greene King Abbot Reserve (14/30)

    Stay tuned for our next podcast, as our Southern studio get together for BeerCast #46 – a celebration of Mexican beer….

    Wetherspoon’s Real Ale Festival

    The world’s biggest beer festival is running at the moment, up and down the UK (until the 14th of April). How they quantify that, I don’t know, but the good folks at JD Wetherspoon are having a celebration of real ale that even the BeerCast felt compelled to attend. I say ‘even the BeerCast’ because our local Wetherspoon’s isn’t really the kind of place you’d normally find us. You won’t find it in our pub guide to Edinburgh, for example (there are actually five here, if you count the two at the airport).

    That’s not us being real ale snobs, either – perish the thought. It’s just the large, cavernous interiors and be-shirted groups of lads on WKD don’t really spell out a decent beer experience. But they do serve real ale – and are so vast you can usually get a seat. My Dad used to have meetings in his local Wetherspoons, far up the back on the raised no-smoking area (this was a few years ago). It used to be so empty, while waiting for his colleagues, he’d read one of the books on the shelves – placed there purely for atmosphere and effect – and leave a bookmark in for next time.

    Anyway, we were up the other week at the Standing Order on George Street, enjoying some seriously good pints of my personal favourite local beer – Stewart’s Edinburgh Gold, at £1.90 a pint no less, when we saw the advert for the upcoming beer festival. Returning last week, they had a mightily impressive range of beers on offer that particular night, from a festival programme of 50:-

    Young’s Bitter (3.7%) Wells & Young’s, Bedford.
    Chocolate Drop (3.8%) Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh.
    Sunbright Ale (3.8%) Marston’s Brewery, Staffordshire.
    Oakham JHB (3.8%) Oakham Brewery, Peterborough.
    Elgood’s Old Wagg (4.0%) Elgood’s Brewery, Wisbech.
    Sunchaser (4.0%) Everards Brewery, Leicestershire.
    Hook Norton 303AD (4.0%) Hook Norton Brewery, Oxfordshire.
    Eden Pure Ale (4.3%) Sharp’s Brewery, Cornwall.
    Hopping Hare (4.5%) Hall & Woodhouse, Dorset.
    Pedigree Six (6.0%) Marston’s Brewery, Staffordshire.
    Abbot Reserve Ale (6.5%) Greene King, Suffolk.

    So much to choose from on a cold Wednesday night. We started off on Everard’s Sunchaser, which was a pale lagery-style beer with German hops giving it a really moreish taste. Next we went for Elgood’s Old Wagg, which didn’t go down quite as well, lingering a bit too long in the finish, and with an odd maltiness to it. Finally we ended up with the Marston’s Pedigree Six, apparently brewed exclusively for Wetherspoon’s. The stronger alcohol taste really mixed well with the hops, and a spicy fruitiness made it very good indeed.

    So if you’ve got the need for a beer and find yourself in a random UK high street over the next four days, you could do far worse than sounding out your nearest JDW. Certainly they have their issues – the people immediately in front of me at the bar bought a round of Tennants and Aftershock chasers – but they should certainly be applauded for sponsoring a real ale festival of this magnitude.

    JD Wetherspoon