The complainant claimed the name ‘Neck Oil’ implied the beer was to be drunk “down in one”, ie, ‘necked’ and this was in line with the bright colours that were “clearly aimed at the younger market and encouraged irresponsible consumption”.
The company’s submission said it took its responsibilities as a producer seriously and it believed the complainant had misunderstood the name of the beer.
As a consequence, Beavertown claimed the complainant had developed an incoherent and misguided argument against the product.
The company explained Neck Oil was sold in 330ml cans with a 4.3% ABV, which was well within the UK Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk drinking guidelines.
It also stressed that it marketed its products as ‘premium’ and priced them accordingly. Furthermore, Beavertown stated it only supplied its beers to the specialist craft beer network and high street outlets known to operate at a high ethical level and those that implemented the ‘Challenge 25’ policy.
It also stated there was no evidence to support the complainant’s criticism of the product name and their interpretation was out of step with the accepted and regular use of the term ‘neck oil’.
Beavertown highlighted text on its website and other online sources to highlight how the phrase was typically interpreted.
It added the name was originally picked to pay homage to its CEO’s grandfather who referred to beer, in general, almost exclusively as such and never as shorthand for ‘necking’.
It also stated the name ‘neck oil’ incorporated the noun ‘neck’ and did not encourage the act of necking beer in quantity.
The company said the colour palette followed the corporate, award-winning and well-established company brand that consumers were familiar with.
It refuted the complainant’s assertion the product could have a particular appeal to under-18s and it was not designed to appeal to ‘tweens’, youths or an irresponsible beer-drinking demographic.
Beavertown added the beer label on Neck Oil had the same layout as its Gamma Ray beer, which had previously been considered by the panel in 2015.
The company argued, at that time, the label complied with EU food labelling regulations in the same way and made it clear the product was alcoholic.
In addition to this, the company highlighted the fact the illustrations were of a similar nature to Gamma Ray, which the panel previously ruled were adult in nature.
The panel decided the colour palette and illustrations on Neck Oil were adult in nature and it concluded there was no element of the can that could have a particular appeal to under-18s.
It also discussed the term ‘session IPA’ and acknowledged it was a commonly used descriptor in the craft beer category to denote a product of lower-than-average strength of IPA and the term’s acceptability would depend on the overall impression conveyed by a product.
The panel also considered the company’s submission and acknowledged the phrase ‘neck oil’ was widely recognised as a colloquial term for beer within and outside the industry.
It noted that ‘neck’ was used as a noun and did not consider its use in this way suggested a ‘down-in-one’ style of consumption.
The panel also noted there were no visual or text cues to encourage irresponsible or ‘down-in-one’ consumption.