Portman Group's Final Decision on BrewDog Announced
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.