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Business

Brewer Wins Legal Battle

A German brewer won a court battle Thursday allowing its sugar-infused frothy beverages to retain the name "beer" even if they violate the strict 16th century purity laws governing the industry. The federal administrative court in this eastern city upheld a complaint by the Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle demanding that the state of Brandenburg recognize its product as beer after a 10-year campaign. The "Schwarzer Abt" (Black Abbot) black beer has a hint of invert sugar syrup, using a recipe handed down by monks. Thus, it does not meet the purity standards for German beer established in 1516, which limits the ingredients to malt, water, yeast and hops. "It looks like beer, tastes like beer and has alcohol in it," the brewer's managing director Helmut Fritsche insisted, arguing for the right to have the beer designation. The state agricultural ministry had withheld the label, a decision Fritsche described as discrimination because foreign brewers that do not meet the purity standards may still call their products "beer." The court's judges agreed but stipulated that Neuzelle must inform consumers about the syrup additive on its labels.

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