Controversial Scottish brewer BrewDog has claimed the launch of Britain's strongest beer will help alleviate the binge drinking culture.
BrewDog, previously involved in a high profile spat with industry watchdog Portman Group, today launched the 18.2% abv Tokyo — causing a furore from the health lobbyists.
BrewDog founder, 26-year-old James Watt, said the the brewery encourages sensible drinking by promoting taste and education. Tokyo will be sold for £9.99 a bottle — the same price as 24 cans of lager or a 40% abv bottle of spirits in the supermarket, said Watt.
"In order to change society's drinking habits, we have to change the way consumers enjoy beer — it's all about a change in their mindset," he said.
"We've been challenging people to drink less alcohol, and educating the palates of drinkers with progressive craft brewed beers which have an amazing depth of flavour, body and character.
"Our hardcore beers are loaded with flavour, bite and body so consequently you drink less of them. Mass-market industrially brewed lagers are so bland and tasteless that you are seduced into drinking a lot of them.
"The beers we make at BrewDog, including Tokyo, are providing a cure to binge-beer drinking."
However, the launch has been lambasted by the health lobby. "This company is completely deluded if they think that an 18.2% abv beer will help solve Scotland's alcohol problems," said Alcohol Focus Scotland chief executive Jack Law.
"It is utterly irresponsible to bring out a beer which is so strong at a time when Scotland is facing unprecedented levels of alcohol-related health and social harm.
"Just one bottle of this beer contains 6 units of alcohol — twice the recommended daily limit.
"People choosing to drink only 'premium' products are not somehow immune from the harm caused by alcohol. It is a drug which kills when taken in excess, regardless of how fancy the production process or packaging."
But BrewDog has received support from beer writer Zak Avery. "Tokyo is produced, marketed, priced and sold as a super-premium product. To claim that this type of beer is part of the alcohol abuse problem is akin to blaming Michelin-starred restaurants for the oft-reported obesity epidemic."
The oak-aged imperial stout will only be available from www.brewdog.com or specialist, independent retailers.