Is BrewDog really the source of all our problems?

Portman Group Issues

Is BrewDog really the source of all our problems?

Some of you may be aware of the Portman Group's issues with our labels. 

A decision will be made as to whether or not our products should be blacklisted at a Portman Group panel in September. If the panel upholds the commission's findings we will no longer be allowed to sell our beer, in their current packaging, in the UK market. 

I guess alot of you are people who have drunk our beers before. How many of you thought that Hop Rocker would ‘enhance mental and physical capabilities' or that Rip Tide encouraged you to engage in ‘anti-social behaviour'?

The Portman Group are funded by the biggest players in the UK alcohol business and consequently are free to act as a cartel and have a vested interest in ensuring small producers are not successful and do not infringe on their funders market share.   

My original response to their allegations.

Ironically for a body funded by the UK's leading alcohol producers, those responsible for the supermarket pricing debacle, they have decided to target a small craft beer producer for the apparent evils beyond imagination contained on our labels.

According to their website, one of their beliefs is:

"Enlightened corporate social responsibility is positively good for business" Anyone who can understand that callous concoction of management paradigms and in fashion corporate buzzwords which were pieced together by a marketing agency deserves an honorary PHD (and maybe some free beer) in my view.

Anyway, we are in breach of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.I quote directly from the correspondence:

PIPC considered Rip Tide to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:"The product is described as a "twisted merciless stout" associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour"

PIPC considered Hop Rocker to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2j for the following reason "Description of the product includes "nourishing foodstuff" and "magic is still there to be extracted from this drink" implying it could enhance mental or physical capabilities"

PIPC considered Punk IPA to be in potential breach of Code rule 3.2b for the following reason:"This product is described as an "aggressive beer" thus associating its consumption with anti-social behaviour" Apparently they are going to advise retailers not to stock the beers unless the labelling is changed.

My contention would be; does Jamie Oliver saying that a pepper is spicy encourage those who eat it to be hot-headed; does naming a dessert "death by chocolate" increase the murder rate in the UK; does a drink called Blue WKD encourage people to be wicked, or perhaps pornographic?

Or perhaps more simply does the Portman group's letter to BrewDog not only show their massive failings and short-comings as an organisation by provide a telling little microcosm for a far more widespread epidemic in our society? What is the new meaning of anti-social behaviour (which BrewDog is apparently encouraging) if it is not some new buzzword to replace crime by some lame criminologist with a PHD and zero real world experience? In fact anti-social behaviour is not coming out of your room for supper when all your friends and relatives have dropped by. Our society is not going to get better by playing about with meanings. Meaning lies deeper than the words used to convey it.

We are not going to cure criminals by applying softer terms for their criminal activity; we are not going to cure society by taking the words on labels completely out of context and punishing a small boutique producer when large producers sell beer cheaper than water.

If I wanted to encourage anti-social behaviour my labels would state:

Step 1: Drink bottle of Punk IPA

Step 2: Blow up a goose with a foot pump and use it as a Harmonica to play various Celine Dione hits.

Step 3: Hit any small children with a German sounding name (e.g. Andreas) over the head with a peppered sausage

The Portman group has some admirable aims if you can dig the out the pseudo-novo-chic, management speak of their their over-priced, consultancy indulgent policy statements. As always though, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (or Killing - see above) and their execution lacks focus, common sense and a basic understanding of the industry they attempt to police. And one final point, I have had a good look at their website and I am struggling to find out who Mr./Mrs./Miss/ (perhaps Viscount) Portman is, I am hoping it is Natalie, she rocked out in Star Wars.

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Comments (12)

Nick Simpson 25th January, 2009 12:37am
What a load of crap. I first saw your beers in our local Tesco and saw them for what they were - excellent brews with a comic twist to the label. Quick, call the Fun Police, someone selling alcohol using comedy. Then call all comedians who have been enlisted to sell alcohol. Can you add fiery chicken wings to any list of proscribed items?
Dave Clemens 6th October, 2008 10:56pm
I just drank a bottle of punk IPA and cuddled my pet skunk. am i a bad person?
Mark Sephton 4th October, 2008 10:20am
Having tried your beers in cask form at the Peterborough beer festival, I was delighted to find my local Tesco your Punk IPA. I have to say the diatribe (lol) on the label brought a smile to my lips and is a great example of dry British (or should that be Scottish?) wit, the final statement sums up perfectly the British publics general apathy with regards to our national drink and their propensity to accept without question the products which the Portman group funding bodies promote.

Keep up the good work boys.
Mattias Johansson 17th September, 2008 6:29am
Im not kidding when Im saying -for the love of god, dont change the labels. They are (dead honestly) the main reason I like Brew Dog. The taste is great too, but reading your awesomely cool labels and (more importantly for you) showing them to my friend in the chair next to me, brings the real pleasure for me. Granted, Im a guy who loves copywriting and design, but Im hardly alone in that.

Stick to it!!!
state select water heaters 1st September, 2008 9:39pm
Very amazing site
Thanks, webmaster.
Niclas 19th August, 2008 10:54pm
It sounds a bit silly, to say the least... then again, people with no reality connection preaching moral is nothing new....
Regarding the labels: I found the punk ipa one to be punk-ish, but not really hitting the (my) nerv. then again, Im 43 ...
But, the message did! It is indeed a superb beer, and typically not for the masses

Keep up the good work and never mind the bollocks!
Arne Poulsen 19th August, 2008 5:18pm
We Tasted your beer. It was like tasting old wet socks. like old sour dishcloth. it took 3 days with eating chilli strong sweets before we could taste other whise again, and i do not say taste normally. PWEYH Bwadr Ugly taste.
Arne. Denmark
Anders Sweeden
Neil Amos 13th August, 2008 6:21pm
I would endorse the PIPC findings as since we sold a cask of Hop Rocker in the Newcastle Arms, several customers have suddenly been able to read the beer pump clips & one customer passed his cycling proiciency badge, well done to all at Brewdog! how about the strapline, education,education, education, better than new labour!
hellstream 27th July, 2008 2:06pm
I thought the PunkIPA label was funny and, really, isnt it the alcohol in ANY beer that promotes anti-social behaviour rather than what it says on the label!
Stig Mörk 23rd July, 2008 11:15am
Swing your label high, and let that punkbeer pour like a wild and fresh mountain creek all through my home-country - Sweden, and the rest of this planet, that can tell the different between beer and beer.
Stig 23.07-2008
Kev 21st July, 2008 12:14am
You should start up a web petition showing how many people wish the labels to remain the same. Surely there will be thousands and you can then shove it in the face of the portman group.
Justin Kirkhope 19th July, 2008 1:24pm
How ridiculous is this. Your beers are like a breath of fresh air amongst all the other mass produced stuff on sale at my local branch of tesco.

We need to fight this. Your labelling reminds me of the great US micro breweries, like Lagunitas in California. These are niche products, not the sort of stuff that teenagers are going to be drinking on street corners. Keep up the great work!

Justin, Falkirk