Hellfest – David Takes On Goliath In Beer


Clisson | France


Welcome to Hell!

Hellfest is one of the biggest festivals of extreme music in the world, a city erected and dedicated to metal music over 4 days. This festival happens in Clisson, West of France, near Nantes. Because of its size, it’s also one of the biggest “independent” festivals ever organised in terms of music programming.

In ten years, the festival has achieved the feat of going from 22,000 visitors to 150,000 visitors. The atmosphere of the festival and the real war machine built by the organisation explain this remarkable success.

The Hellfest, a paradise for metalheads.

Moreover, the organisation own the festival site and it’s the only festival to have a decor that they do not disassemble each year. Local artists worked hard to create this amazing and impressive decor. At the entrance, you can walk around the mini-neighbourhood entitled “Hell City Square”, inspired by “Camden Street”. To access the music scenes, you have to pass the control gates shaped like an evil cathedral.

Then you can pay your respect to the God of Motorhead Lemmy Kilmister at his statue and mausoleum. To put you more in the mood, pieces of art are brightening the site up with a tree bearing the name of the festival and also an enormous horn-shaped arm.

Hellfest presents several scenes, each in its own specialty, Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom Metal and Stoner, not forgetting the main scenes 1 and 2. The most impressive scene is called the War Zone, a whole universe dedicated to punk and hardcore music surrounded by barbed wire and flamethrowers.


Beer and metalheads, a real love story.

Hellfest is therefore the biggest gathering of metalheads in Europe, and what is the favourite drink of metalheads? Any guess ? Go on make an effort, come on! It’s easy! Finally, yes it’s beer! This year, the festival-goers made strong with 350,000 litres of beer drunk over the 4 days! The winner in this story? Carlsberg! With its brands Kronenbourg, Grimbergen, Skøll (Tuborg) and two products it distributes the ProperJob (St Austell) and cider Magners.

And this year they reached a new record high on beer consumption due to high temperatures as it was the hottest year recorded on the festival, a real hot hell! With the investments made on the festival site in 2015, they installed a pipeline to serve the beers in the various bars of the festival, a heavy investment that proved to be a winning bet!


La Mélusine, a local craft brewery with good ideas.

Our beer story does not end at the average mass produced crap, because facing this Goliath, a David invited himself on the hopped battlefield. This is a local craft brewery called “La Mélusine” which has simply produced the first official beer of the Hellfest festival, entitled “Hellfest”. The production of this beer started in December 2016, since 600 hectoliters have been brewed. “La Mélusine” has signed an official partnership with the organisation of the Hellfest to produce this beer, manage and use its image. The “Hellfest” is a beer presented as an IPA. However, the beer lacks bitterness to be classified as an IPA, it looks more like a hybrid between a Pale Ale and a NEIPA, with its notes of very pleasant tropical fruit. A perfect beer to drink at any time of the day for this festival!

Great, but wait …

However, there is a worry that Carlsberg (and its subsidiary Kronenbourg) has a contract of exclusivity on the festival as is usual with any big contract brewer with music festivals. In other words : it’s forbidden to sell other beers than its beers! The Hellfest therefore has its own official beer, brewed locally, but which can not be sold on the festival site. 

But our genius brewer from “La Mélusine” found a ruse to beat the system and sell its beer “Hellfest” to the festival-goers, and it was in the carpark of the supermarket Leclerc, located at 5 minutes with feet of the camp-site. They landed with a double truck including a Bar and a pack of 6 beers ready to sell! And those beers were also available in the supermarket! Funny story, all the shops around the Hellfest played the game, with decorations bearing the image of the festival, staff committed to ensuring that the party is also held at home. Even the McDonald has created t-shirts for its employees with the sign of the horns!


Please Carlsberg, be nice.

We are in a very peculiar situation between a big industrialist who blocks the entrance of the other hopped drinks on the festival site and a small craft brewery. This craft player who’s the holder of the Hellfest brand rights to brew and market the official beer but has no right to sell it on site. Let’s hope for the good of all, that Carlsberg will authorise the introduction of official beer, because we do not make ideas, it is not by brewing 600 hectoliters in 6 months that “La Mélusine” will manage to sell more beer than Carlsberg and their 3,500 hectoliters sold in 4 days.

But by allowing “La Mélusine” on one of the many bars of the festival, Carlsberg would lose a little market share but would gain in terms of image with the festival-goers and customers. It would be enough to change the ProperJob of St Austell which was not formidable by the Hellfest beer brewed locally “La Mélusine”. That would a great turn for the “Drink Local” movement.

You can read more interesting features on beer here

Karim D
KARIM D Modern drunkard, addicted to craft cocktails and good beers. Enjoy sours, milk stouts, double milk stouts, imperial stouts, B.A. stouts, stout, stout, stout ... and pale ales to cleanse the palate between two stouts.

I have a "curious mouth", it wants to taste everything and discover new flavours!

Big fan of QOTSA, music every time, everywhere, live, shows, rock, metal, punk (the real punks not the other malty ones). My super power : "I know people"


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