November 25, 2004

Pa. Ale Gets Cheeky New Name and Label

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A Bethlehem brewery forced to drop its Rudolph's Reserve ale in a copyright battle last year has brought the brew back with a new name and label that poke fun at the dispute.

Rude Elf's Reserve features a red-nosed elf holding an open bottle on the label, with a reindeer visible in the background.

The send-up of the original name and design is meant as a cheeky response to the copyright fight over the image of Rudolph the reindeer, Bethlehem Brew Works owner Jeff Fegley said.

Fegley agreed last year to drop the "Rudolph Reserve" name after learning that a Connecticut company, The Rudolph Company, owned the right to sell beer with the red-nosed reindeer's name and image on it.

Fegley said he could not afford to fight the bigger competitor. But he vowed to bring back the beer, and says now that the new name and label are his "in-your-face" response.

About 500 cases of the Belgian-style ale are being produced this year, about the same amount as last year; they are being contract-brewed at Easton's Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

The recipe includes Belgian candi sugar and several spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

The candi sugar, a common ingredient in Belgian beers, boosts alcohol content without adding color or flavors. Rude Elf's Reserve is 9.5 percent alcohol by volume, far more potent than the average domestic beer. Budweiser, by comparison, is 5 percent alcohol by volume, according to Anheuser-Busch.

Rude Elf sells for about $30 a case. The ale is also available on tap at the Brew Works pub in Bethlehem.