Portman Group's Final Decision on BrewDog Announced

Portman Group

In a dramatic last minute stand-down the Portman Group’s panel have decided not to uphold the provisional ruling against three BrewDog beers. The u-turn means that BrewDog’s beers will not have to be removed from shop shelves and distribution in the UK and can remain for sale. The announcement follows a protracted 8 month battle between tiny Scottish brewery BrewDog and the Portman Group which is financially backed by the industry giants.

It is a victory for common sense, the intelligence of the consumer, small independent producers and freedom of speech; it is a victory that BrewDog had to fight tooth and nail for. We refused to roll-over and be 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.

With Punk IPA they decided that the phrase ‘this is an aggressive beer’ on the label described a flavour characteristic of the product and the phrase when read in context, clearly referred to the taste of the product. Yet remarkably only 3 weeks ago they held that this phrase ‘was more likely to apply to the drinker than the drink’ and would ‘encourage anti-social behaviour.  This is a pretty drastic reversal in such a short space of time. 

On Rip Tide they decided the phrase ‘twisted merciless stout’ was in keeping with the pirate and nautical theme of the label and a mere harmless hyperbole. Again backing down from their original position that the phrase would encourage both violence and anti-social behaviour.

On Hop Rocker they decided that the challenged text contained a light hearted description of the history of beer and our aspirations and that it was unlikely to be taken literally. This contradicted their conclusion from merely a few weeks earlier when they accused the label of implying that the product would enhance physical and mental capabilities.

Hopefully the Portman Group will now take a serious look at its remit and how it operates. It remains completely toothless in the face of the real issues and problems, which underpin irresponsible alcohol consumption in the UK. Consequently it turned its attentions to what they must have perceived as an easier target, a small artisan producer they could make a public stand against, we are glad we have proved this assumption emphatically wrong. We have always insisted all along that their complaints against BrewDog were only serving to justify their own, now seemingly pathetic, existence.

It would be interesting to know how much money was wasted in the Portman Group’s inexcusable case against BrewDog. I am confident this money could have been put to much better use to promote and educate consumers about responsible consumption. As a body, which claims to act in the public interest, perhaps the Portman Group should be accountable for how they use their vast budget.

What is also striking is the just how unnecessary the whole thing was. Surely it des not take eight months and tens of thousands of pounds to figure out the text on the back of the Hop Rocker label was a ‘light hearted description and not meant to be taken literally”. Any person with an IQ higher than that of a garden gnome would come to this conclusion pretty quickly on seeing the product.

We feel our victory, and the fact we were determined to stand our ground sends a strong message out about BrewDog to the rest of the sleepy, stuffy and mediocre UK brewing industry. If the result means that the Portman Group does not unjustifiably bully another independent producer then all the effort was worthwhile.


We are off to drink Punk IPA and watch Star Wars; Natalie is still our favourite Portman. 


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Waineeamany 13.03.2009 @ 7:42pm
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Ben Cowell 07.01.2009 @ 4:26pm
Great news guys. Now thats what I call a New Years Resolution, a victory! Cheers BC
Kev G 05.01.2009 @ 11:08am
Common sense prevails - who would have thunk it.... Well played!
Deeker 25.12.2008 @ 11:36pm
As a punker working in the booze industry, this seems to be an utter no-brainer.

Portman are the majors, Brewdog DIY.

Good skills troops. We got yo back! ;-)

Edward B. Friday 25.12.2008 @ 7:25pm
Fantastic news on the Portman fiasco Your beer is fantastic regardless of any marketing or otherwise its great stuff!!!

S Redders 25.12.2008 @ 11:24am
Great news, well done for not giving in to these bullies.
I,ll raise a glass of Punk IPA to your victory.
maeib 24.12.2008 @ 12:58pm
Excellent news. Organizations like the Portman Group exist only to promote the interests of its own members in my opinion. Old fuddy duddy tories who should be banished from existance.
G Dunbar 24.12.2008 @ 3:47am
Hi Jimmy - I just noticed your post. I introduced/made Chris get the last Tokyo & the Imperial Coffee Stout in Cornelius. Do you guys have any Storm left?
G Dunbar 24.12.2008 @ 3:39am
After a very long day at work nipped into Cornelius for my sister’s Port and we picked up Paradox Springbanks. Still want the glassware though...
J. Valm 23.12.2008 @ 9:42pm
Congratulations, boys! I will be popping open my Hardcore I.P.A. to celebrate this one. Thank you for standing up and not going quietly into the night. SLÁINTE!
Ally 23.12.2008 @ 7:10pm
Finally! I feel a little better about the world now.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.
G Dunbar 23.12.2008 @ 6:41pm
Excellent news, guys. I hope the Portman group appreciate just how stupid they have made themselves look by their actions this year. I’ll be celebrating with the new Paradoxes once I get a minute to order them! Merry Christmas.
Alistair W Oag 23.12.2008 @ 5:07pm
To every small independant brewer - victory...a beer drunk colder than most but very satisfying.
Martin, say hi to your mum from me.
bass 23.12.2008 @ 3:45pm
A well deserved victory! Cheers!
Dubbel 23.12.2008 @ 3:32pm
Well done guys! Happy Christmas!

John Hart 23.12.2008 @ 12:51pm
Great news. I will have a Hop rocker tonight to celebrate.
Stewart Prodger 23.12.2008 @ 12:33pm
Good to see the unelected and unrepresentative Portman playground bullies given the Black Knight treatment - nice one folks!
Graeme Smith 23.12.2008 @ 9:57am
Congratulations guys, good to see there is still some common sense left in the world!
haddonsman 22.12.2008 @ 10:28pm
Outstanding news and thoroughly deserved!
Tim Lebbon 22.12.2008 @ 10:03pm
Common sense prevails! Delighted to hear this news, and it comes a day after I discovered my new favourite stout - Paradox Smokehead ... oh yes.