Castlemaine Brewing Company forced into name change after multinational Lion Nathan comes knocking

JUST three years after it was founded, Castlemaine Brewery Company has been forced into an unplanned name-change that could cost the business more than $40,000.

Multinational brewer Lion Nathan sent the business a cease and desist letter 12 months ago over its use of the word “Castlemaine”.

Japanese-owned Lion Nathan acquired Castlemaine Perkins, the brewer of XXXX, in 1992 and trademarked the Castlemaine name for brewing in Australia.

Castlemaine Brewery director Jacqueline Brodie-Hanns said they considered taking up the fight, but a potentially crippling law suit was undesirable.

“We did think about challenging it, but it would be a David versus Goliath situation,” she said.

“They provided us a window of time to make the changes.”

The business produces 20,000 units of beer at a time, and will wait to distribute the last of their Castlemaine Brewing batch before moving on to a new name – Shedshaker, in honour of one of their brewer’s fathers.

Ms Brodie-Hanns estimates the change has already cost the business between $30,000 and $40,000, and could have more hidden costs. They have started changing signage and branding to avoid falling further foul of Lion Nathan.

Despite the enforced change, the small brewer is hopeful it could clear up some misconceptions about their connection – or lack thereof – to Castlemaine Perkins.

The Castlemaine Brewing Company was established in 2014, but the "Castlemaine" brewing name was trademarked more than 20 years earlier.

The Castlemaine Brewing Company was established in 2014, but the "Castlemaine" brewing name was trademarked more than 20 years earlier.

Ms Brodie-Hanns said they had been accused of “craft-washing”, before people realise they are not connected to XXXX or Lion Nathan.

“Craft-washing is when large, often multinational, brewers will release craft beers. But in reality they are not craft beers,” she said.

“We’ve been accused of being an arm of Lion Nathan.

“The Shedshaker name should change that. It has strong rural connotations, and when you look at our operation, we actually are brewed in a shed.”

The new name will first appear at Bendigo On the Hop on August 26, with an official launch in September.

A spokesperson for Lion Nathan said “Lion is happy than an amicable decision could be reached by both parties”.

Castlemaine’s brewing history in the spotlight

The “Castlemaine” name is famous for a number of reasons – whether for its small goods, its goldfield history or, in many parts of Australia, its brewing.

Gold and beer were in abundance in 19th century Castlemaine, and multiple breweries were in operation.

Among them was one owned by brothers Nicholas and Edward Fitzgerald who, in 1878, decided to relocate to Queensland.

"Mr Fourex" was central to the success of XXXX beer in the early days.

"Mr Fourex" was central to the success of XXXX beer in the early days.

They took the Castlemaine name with them however, and established Castlemaine Perkins in honour of their old location.

They hit the big time in 1924 when they released XXXX beer, accompanied by a highly successful marketing campaign featuring the popular “Mr Fourex”.

Just one year later, the last brewery in Castlemaine closed its doors.

Almost 90 years later, Castlemaine Brewing Co. set up in the town’s historic Woollen Mill.