Corporate giant Lion has caused a stir in the craft beer world with a move to try to trademark the word "dank".

Traditionally a slang term for describing pungent marijuana it is now commonly used by craft brewers to describe strong, heavily-hopped ales.

Not to be confused with the Kiwi slang term "dak", the original meaning of "dank" was simply something damp and musty.

Craft beer fans were up in arms when Lion's trademark application was posted on the Beertown Facebook page this week.

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"Dank, dankier, dankiest. Lion is attempting to trademark DANK as a beer descriptor. Anyone think that's a bit rank?", the Beertown post said.

Lion confirmed it was seeking the trademark for the term but reassured that it would not prevent other brewers from using the term.

"We have noticed some concern around Lion's Trademark application for Dank," the company said.

"It is correct that we have applied to trademark Dank for possible use as a brand in a new beer range ... It's incorrect though, to say that by registering Dank, we're seeking to prevent the use of the word by other brewers."

It was standard practice in trademark law that even if the application was successful "any brewer currently using dank in their beer name would not be affected or forced to change, and dank could continue to be used to describe a beer style in the future," Lion said.

But the founder of brewery 8 Wired Soren Eriksen, who recently launched a Superdank beer brand, said he was sceptical.

Eriksen said he was concerned that Lion might get more restrictive about the use of the term in the future if its application succeeded.

The application should be rejected on the basis that there was a clear history of prior use, he said.

The term "dank" was not necessarily related to marijuana but it "was kind of the same thing", he said.

He noted that fresh hops and marijuana were biologically from the same family hence the similar pungent smell.

Lion did not say which of its brands would be launching a "dank" variety. It now owns the previously independent breweries Panhead, Emersons and Macs.

It's application to the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) was made on April 27 and is currently under review.