Norway’s Søl beer in war with Mexican giant

A tiny microbrewery in far northern Norway has entered a trademark war with global brewing company Heineken, because its name and logo Søl is too close to that of its Mexican beer brand Sol.

Norway's Søl beer in war with Mexican giant
Senja Øl Bryggeri's Søl label net to the Mexican beer. Photo: Senja Øl Bryggeri
Senja Øl Bryggeri AS, which launched this year on the tiny island of on the island of Senja, has labelled its beer bottles with the words SØL, with the letters laid diagonally across the front. 
“They are one of the world’s largest brewer, and we have a microbrewery with a local focus. We’ll see how this goes,” said Tor Egil Sebulonsen, the brewery’s chief executive. 
He said that his company had received objections from Cervezas Cuauhtémoc Mocezuma, Heineken’s Mexican subsidiary, when it tried to register. 
“SØL stands for Senja Øl, and the island is a big part of our marketing,” he said. 
He denied that the brand was trying to win customers by using the Sol brand.  
“We have no desire and will gain no advantage from being associated with this thin, industrially produced drink named SOL,” he said. 
Heineken’s lawyer Bryn Aareflot argued that SØL was clearly exploiting the Sol brand. 
“It is obvious that there is an unfair exploitation of our client’s well-known brand,” he wrote in his submission. “The use of SØL for a beer will also cause damage to our client’s well-known brand’s distinctive character and reputation.“
“The elements SØL and SOL consists of an equal number of letters, namely three letters. The first letter and last letter advocated elements are identical, namely S and L. They have similarities, both phonetically and visually, and they provide a very similar impression.” 
A decision is expected from the Norwegian patent office within a few months. 


Norwegian Christmas beers are more numerous than ever

Christmas beer is no longer just a dark and under-fermented seasonal beverage that appears on Norwegian shelves in November and December.

Norwegian Christmas beers are more numerous than ever
Photo: Anette Kirkeby/Creative Commons

Nearly 250 different types of Christmas beer from both Norwegian and foreign breweries can now be purchased during the festive season (and in the weeks leading up to it).

“Many new brands are being launched and we have seen a huge increase in the range of products in recent years,” Anders Roås Stueland, a product advisor with national alcoholic beverage retailer Vinmonopolet, said to news agency NTB.

“There is also a lot more variation within the category today,” Stueland added.

‘Juleøl’ (Christmas beer) used to signify dark, under-fermented beer, but can now take the form of wheat beer, stout, bock and doppelbock, barley wine, red ale, IPA and double IPA, or dubbel, tripel and quadrupel.

Meanwhile, several breweries have begun experimenting with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, citrus peel and cardamom to add extra flavour to their Christmas beers.

Seasoning of Christmas beer is a relatively innovation in Norway, but is more common in Belgium, where hot, spicy beer – reminiscent of mulled wine or the Norwegian gløgg – is common the festive season.

Christmas beer has been brewed in Norway for over 1,500 years. The seasonal drink was banned during World War II but the tradition was resumed in the mid-1950s.

Traditional Christmas beer is usually stored longer than other types before being released for sale, but it also has longer shelf life. The strongest versions can be kept for several years.

READ ALSO: Norwegians set records for beer consumption during hot summer