Portman Group urges ban on Brewdog's Tokyo beer

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer

James Watt & Martin Dickie: not fussed by Portman ruling
James Watt & Martin Dickie: not fussed by Portman ruling
Drinks watchdog has urged pubs, clubs and shops to ban Brewdog's Tokyo Beer from sale for breaching its code of practice on responsible marketing....

Drinks watchdog has urged pubs, clubs and shops to ban Brewdog's Tokyo Beer from sale for breaching its code of practice on responsible marketing.

The 18.2% abv stout was Britain's strongest beer when it launched last month — until Brewdog launched a 32% abv beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin last week.

Alcohol Focus Scotland complained that the drink's label encouraged excessive drinking.

Brewdog, itself, also complained about its own product in a bid to highlight "flaws" in the drinks watchdog's complaints procedure. The Scottish brewer has been involved in a long-running spat with Portman over several of its beers.

Alcohol Focus complained that:

• Brewdog had claimed it was Britain's strongest beer

• It had not promoted a positive message of safe and responsible drinking

• It does not promote a positive message of safe and responsible drinking

• Use of the phrase "intergalactic fantastic imperial stout" in marketing points to hallucinogenic qualities

• Use of the following statement on BrewDog's website: "It is all about moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times."

The Portman Group is issuing a Retailer Alert Bulletin asking retailers to stop selling the drink until its marketing is altered to comply with the Code.

"We don't regulate the alcohol content of drinks but we do control how they are promoted.  It's obviously unwise for any company to urge consumers to drink to excess," said Portman Group chief executive David Poley.  

"We won't allow any irresponsible marketing whether it's for a big brand or a niche product.  That's why we're taking action to restrict future sales of this beer."

Portman did, however, dismiss complaints that the product's packaging unduly emphasised its strength and that the expression "intergalactic fantastic" on the label was a reference to the effects of illicit drugs.

Brewdog co-founder Martin Dickie said: "Once again Portman has gone completely overboard.

"They have failed to realise that this is a limited release beer that takes us six months to produce. It is absolutely loaded with flavour and is more akin to a fine port.

"It is not a beer sold in crates for £10. Those are the ones that cause the problem."

Dickie said that the Portman ruling would not affect them. "I think they would only have to write to about three specialist beer shops and pubs that sell it.

"We can provide them with the names and addresses if they want."

Related topics: Beer

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