Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Victory for craft brewery

BrewDog wins label battle
with industry's watch dog

BrewDog, a Scottish micro brewery, is celebrating victory after a long, eight-month battle with the drinks industry watch dog, the Portman Group. The drinks regulator had threatened to force the brewery to withdraw three of its beers following complaints about the wording on bottle labels.
But the Portman Group's independent complaints panel said it had considered the complaints and had not found any breach of the group's code of practice. BrewDog managing director James Watt was delighted by the ruling but criticised the Portman Group's policies.
He said: "It's incredible to think that ,with all the issues there are with alcohol in society, the Portman Group spent eight months chasing us over words on a bottle label. Surely the group must be taking a long, hard look at itself and wondering what its reason for existing is?
"We refused to be rolled over and bullied into changing our packaging by what is basically a cartel funded by our larger competitors. We were determined and stood our ground to keep our dream and our business alive."
On BrewDog's flagship brand, Punk IPA, the complaint stated that the product is described on the label as an aggressive beer", thus associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour.
"The panel decided that the phrase 'this is an aggressive beer' on the label described a flavour characteristic of the product," James Watt said.
The description of the brewery's Hop Rocker beer, which included the phrase "nourishing food stuff" and "magic is still there to be extracted from this drink", raised concerns relating to the implication the beer could enhance mental or physical capabilities. The Portman Group decided this was unlikely to be taken literally.
Finally, on the brewery's Riptide brand, the complaint had been that "the product is described as a 'twisted merciless stout', potentially associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour".
The panel also threw this out, stating: "The company claimed the name and label text were based on a pirate and nautical theme and that the description was in keeping with this theme."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you losing your touch Roger? This was last year's news. On the wire today is the Portman Group's decision on Brew Dog's 'Speedball':

"The Panel considered that the challenged claims clearly sought to present the product as akin to an illicit and dangerous drug. It believed this encouraged people to drink the product primarily for its psychoactive properties and considered this approach to be grossly irresponsible. It was concerned that the blurring of alcohol and illicit drugs in this way not only fostered inappropriate attitudes to drinking but furthermore trivialised drug misuse. It found the product’s name, packaging and website in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(c)."

The micro industry doesn't have special dispensation not to be socially responsible.

21 January 2009 at 13:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say I think Brewdog (who's beers are great) are on really shaky ground with the Speedball issue: I couldn't have told you that "Speedball" is the name of a heroin-cocaine drug "cocktail" that was the thing that killed both John Belushi and River Phoenix, but from a couple of things I read from Brewdog before they launched the beer, they were well aware of it. They wouldn't have called the beer "Crack Cocaine" or "Heroin", so to now start blustering that they are innocent and the watchdogs should be going after others rings a bit hollow with me. I'd no problem with Punk IPA, etc., but this does seem to be smart-arsed marketing getting its cumuppence, and I for one are with the Portman Group on this one (possibly for the first time ever!)

23 January 2009 at 10:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Portman Group shouldn't be given free rein to try and stamp all over an independent brewery as seeing as they belong to the big brewries.

13 February 2009 at 17:32  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

There are far to many organisations telling us what to do. It should be resisted at all costs.

21 February 2009 at 23:44  

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