Tyranny prevails as Portman provisionally upholds BrewDog ruling

BrewDog Beers on the brink of being banned in the UK

Tyranny prevails as Portman provisionally upholds BrewDog ruling

Here is the background for those who missed it



For those of you up to speed here is the update.........

On the 31st October the Independent Complaints Panel provisionally upheld all the complaints the consultant commission lodged against BrewDog. Beers such as Punk IPA and Rip Tide are on the brink of vanishing in the UK for good.

The Portman Group have also come up with stunning new allegations towards our products which are so insane they have diminished my faith in humanity ever so slightly. The new allegations also belittles appreciation of fine food and drink if some regulator is going to control the language you used to describe it.

Their findings on Punk IPA.

The phrase "aggressive beer" ‘is more likely to be seen applying to the drinker rather than the drink'. Now let's step back for a second and look in a bit more detail about this astonishingly incompetent interpretation of very basic use of the English language.

Most sentences have a subject matter, this is predominantly a noun. So if we analyse the accused sentence "This is an aggressive beer". We find that the subject matter of the sentence is indeed beer. There is no mention of the drinker there whatsoever. It would make equally as much sense for the Portman group to say the sentence "This is an aggressive beer" applies to insanely annoying reality TV nutters and go on a witch hunt for Jane Goody.  It just does not make any sense and the further they go with unfounded allegations the more unrealistic their reasoning becomes.

In the above sentence, beer is the noun and the word aggressive is an adjective. An adjective's main syntactic role is to modify a noun, giving more information about the noun's referent. Note the role of an adjective is not to scandalously apply to anything in order for cartel like regulator to try in vain to justify its own existence. At least not according to the Oxford English Dictionary, but who cares about language, rules, European Regulations and Freedom of Speech when you are a big-shot like the Portman group. All this is obviously beneath them. 

Does the phrase ‘this is a friendly pig' apply to the farmer and not the pig? What if the farmer is having a bad hair day and in a fowl (maybe he also farms poultry) mood?

It is pretty clear the subject matter of the short sentence is indeed the pig. Now to blacklist the product and risk bankrupting a young micro-brewery based on such a scandalous min-construed interpretation is obscene.

Their Findings on Rip Tide

In the phrase "twisted merciless stout" the terms ‘merciless' is more likely to be seen as applying to the drinker rather than the drink. Please re-visit the above arguments. Otherwise I can only think they are referring to the Chris Stout, the famous Shetland fiddler (www.chrisstout.co.uk) In which case I concur and I would categorically ban him from drinking Rip Tide, especially when armed with a fiddle, I am pretty sure everyone else will be fine though.

Their Findings on Hop Rocker

The phrases "nourishing food stuff" and "magic is still there to be extracted from this drink" implies it could enhance mental and physical capabilities. The label text is above. Further accusing us of "claiming that the drink would provide mental or physical benefit". I think beer industry Melissa Coles views on this point are both eloquent and accurate.

 "Frankly, if you are so stupid that you think the phrases ‘nourishing foodstuff' and "magic is still there to be extracted from this drink' implies that 'it could enhance mental or physical capabilities' you damn well deserve to have your life terminated by jumping off some very high scaffolding with your pants over your trousers, screaming 'I Believe I Can Fly' - because at least it would take you out of the gene pool!"

At the end of the day the Portman Group is funded by companies concerned about BrewDog infringing on their market share. They are acting like a cartel - in clear breach of EU laws on competition and freedom of speech. I intend to fight them every step of the way. We will take this to the courts, we will take this to the press, and we will take this to parliament.

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Comments (24)

Gregorio Bender 11th January, 2009 4:14am
good luck
Jesus Fischer 9th January, 2009 2:37pm
good luck
Justin Kirkhope 28th November, 2008 10:34pm
I fully support your stance against this ridiculous nanny state beurocracy. However, it might be better to play their game, rather than lose some of your distribution. Why not just replace a couple of words to satisfy their ridiculous demands, then we can continue enjoyoing your great beers, and thats what really counts! Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
Mic Mac 28th November, 2008 3:08pm
Its not Portman Groups job to overturn normal English language rules!

I dont have a problem with edgy, irreverent marketing, - merciless, agressive, twisted. but I do think its a bit dodgy to make drug allusions - Speedball in the drug-world being a mix of cocaine & heroin, & the beer being marketed with terms like for beer junkies & class A strong ale

However, bizarrely, the Advertising Standards Agency recently decided that Stella Artois were innocently using artisitic licence in their (they say - clearly fictional) ads & therefore dismiss the complaints that they were misleading people by claiming that the beer was unchanged since 1366 & that Maize (aka Corn) was one of the original 4 ingredients.

So while one well-paid watchdog allows a big brewer to continue to misleader drinkers, another arbitrarily decides to rewrite the rules of the English langauage in order to harrangue a growing young microbrewery.

Keep on fighting Punks!
haddonsman 21st November, 2008 4:00pm
Sure - mail me via my blog and we will sort something out
Ally Maciver 21st November, 2008 2:39pm
The world is mad. The same people trying to stamp out quirky individualism and beer with humour are the same people that tolerate Buckfast.

Out in the real world there are problems, some actually caused by alcohol. The idea that the marketing used by Brewdog is contributing to it just shows how flipping (safe expletive substituted) insane this world is.

If you need to relabel and repackage then you know that the market base you have already established will be loyal to your brand.

Well, I will be anyway!!
G Dunbar 20th November, 2008 6:05pm
Cheers haddonsman! Well said – thin end of the wedge indeed. BrewDog’s marketing should not be a big deal and the fact that the Portman Group are hinging their case on spurious correlations and deliberate misunderstandings of the English language to get their way is both pathetic and personally insulting to consumers – they’re certainly not acting in my interest. I’m an illustrator so I’ll be happy to supply your blog with a wee satirical BrewDog vs. Portman cartoon or two if you like!!
haddonsman 20th November, 2008 12:54pm
@ G Dunbar, http://bit.ly/punk_ipa_and_portman

Shall we all club together and buy the Portman Group a dictionary?
Colin Campbell 19th November, 2008 7:15pm
The Portman Group are full of shit and using you as a convenient scapegoat. However, I saw Punk IPA here in Sweden in System Bolaget (communist style state alcohol monopoly) and was myself put off by the name and packaging.
Mark 19th November, 2008 1:49pm
Lukewarm on this one. The packaging seems to be designed to be a bit edgy, you have put yourselves above the parapet, chasing market share at a time when the whole drinks industry is under fire for irresponsible advertising of what people seem to forget is a drug, why so surprised that the big-boy industry sponsored watchdog dont like it. Try being really innovative, like selling your beers on their quality not silly imagery. If these labels were on alcopops, all the beer fan-boys would tut-tutting over their milds.
Danny B 19th November, 2008 1:38pm
I would challenge this on the basis that the worlds finest wines use similar words to describe their taste. e.g Aggressive tannins, voluptuous fruit. etc etc. Does a palate of tobacco and leather encourage some idiot to smoke and take up S&M???

If you are stupid enough to buy a beer becuase its aggressive you probably cannot read (the label) anyway.
craig 19th November, 2008 12:40pm
david m 19th November, 2008 11:15am
Like so much in life, the intelligent and discerning have to put up with rules that are designed to nanny the dumb and stupid by whom we are unfortunately surrounded. I wish you well, and long may you prosper in taking alternative ale to a new market, though as others have said, tempering your message a bit wont take away from great liquids.
craig garvie 18th November, 2008 5:52pm
Just what powers does the portman group actually hold, as its clear they have a vested interest in stoping their competition? Plus what actions can i take to counter them?
G Dunbar 18th November, 2008 5:44pm
Dear me – who let the trolls in?!
haddonsman – can you post the address of your blog? The more publicity any of us can generate over this nonsense the better.
harrisoni 18th November, 2008 4:57pm
Does the BrewDog beer Tokyo actually contain bits of Tokyo or indeed make you believe that you are in Tokyo?? No. Is John Smiths actually brewed by someone called John Smith does Strongbow increase the use of bow and arrows in the pub and therefore increase safety issues?? No.

To James and Martin keep brewing fantastic beer that is interesting and full of flavour. Keep up with the experiments and dont let this get you down. There are far more people out there who love you than are in the Portman Group.

dave 18th November, 2008 3:34pm
Innovative and challenging branding? ha ha ha ha. it is just tired over-worked marketing bull. Edgy and attitude is so 1990s, and trying to sell alcohol as a lifestyle product to people who aspire to self-identify themselves as punk (i.e. very young people who are trying to rebel is frankly pathetic.

Tell your marketing folk to get over themselves, stop pulling cheap publicity tricks like this and just concentrate on making decent beer.
haddonsman 18th November, 2008 3:17pm
My gast is totally flabbered. Is there any indication of who or how many complainants? I am kicking up a stick with everyone I know via email and my blog - Portman cannot get away with this bullying. Previous rulings have made them seem petty - this seems supremely misplaced and borderline vindictive. Fight them all the way- you have a legion of fans who are ready to fight with you.
Tired? Go to Bed! 18th November, 2008 1:01pm
There is nothing wrong with the wording of the packaging. Its all part of the innovative and challenging branding that these guys have created from scratch.

The quality of the product already speaks for itself. The big players are losing market share and dont like it one bit.

Thank goodness we are not all like the above poster who is happy to bend over and take it.

Keep fighting the good fight guys.
Tired 17th November, 2008 2:31pm
Look, why dont you just concentrate on the quality of your beer instead of worrying about the wording of your packaging - accept you have made mistakes and just change the text. The beer is what keeps the consumer coming back for more. Just grow up.
G Dunbar 16th November, 2008 12:22pm
Front page of the P&J eh? Nice one! I am saddened but not particularly surprised by the Portman group’s response – presumably they have to justify their existence by badgering micro-breweries otherwise what are they for exactly? I would love to see these people have to justify their ludicrous remarks in court! Go get ‘em.
Winepunker 16th November, 2008 10:06am
This is so stupid I can hardly believe it! Here in Sweden (the world leader in political correctness) we would never _dream_ if fuzzing about an issue like this.
Happy to say, Punk IPA is selling good here, aggressive as it is (and mellow as it makes us).
Mike Ring 15th November, 2008 9:55pm
I always thought the European contingent was the more logical of the bunch, especially when compared to us Yanks.

I may have to re-evaluate that sentiment....
David 15th November, 2008 7:29pm
yeah this sucks. so their aim is to cause you lots of time and money to re-label all your beers based on the promotional sales description? Whats happening with their more retarded views towards the strength of Tokyo for example?