BBC ‘demonising ale pubs’ with link to alcohol abuse

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unfair representation: cask beer pubs should not be associated with binge drinking says Castle Rock Brewery
Unfair representation: cask beer pubs should not be associated with binge drinking says Castle Rock Brewery

Related tags: Camra, Cask

A BBC programme has received backlash from the brewing sector after it used a stock image of real ale to illustrate a story about alcohol abuse.

Nottingham-based brewery Castle Rock wrote an open letter to BBC East Midlands Today​ arguing its image use was an example of how pubs were “tarred with the same brush and demonised via association with binge drinking.”

In the post on its Facebook page, the brewery said the media should shift its focus to cheap alcohol sold in supermarkets instead of pubs, which were doing their best to promote responsible drinking.

An evening news segment of the programme broadcast on 6 October 2019 used imagery of unconscious drinkers in the street receiving treatment from paramedics alongside a picture of one of the brewery’s ales being poured.

Ill-considered image

The programme showed Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale drink alongside a tap with beers from Nottingham brewing peers Totally Brewed and Burton Bridge Brewery. 

Castle Rock has received support from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) alongside other pubs who left Facebook comments sharing their disapproval with the BBC.

The brewery said: “This ill-considered choice of library shot is just one example of many used in the media. It represents a small part of a big problem in which pubs, bars and ‘beer’ (usually cask beer) are all tarred with the same brush and demonised via association with binge drinking.

“If this issue is going to be explored, we suggest that it's explored thoroughly and fairly, and if the media is only prepared to discuss the 'consequences' of a problem (ie, alcohol abuse) then we can think of more suitable places to look than well-run pubs and bars and hard-working breweries, starting with ultra cheap supermarket booze.”

Safe spaces

Castle Rock asked its followers to share the positive impact of pubs, bars and breweries on social media to counter the negative representation it felt the sector was given by the BBC.

CAMRA national chairman Nik Antona said it agreed the media should “stop misrepresenting cask ale and traditional pubs by tarring them with the brush of irresponsible drinking”.

He added: “Traditional pubs are the home of responsible drinking, providing a safe, supervised and social environment to enjoy a drink.” 

Antona pointed out that cask products have a lower ABV than wine or spirits and are, generally, viewed as a moderate choice for drinkers.

He continued: “The media should be more mindful of the unconscious bias they are creating in their stories and should consider giving more focus to the prevalent causes of binge drinking – such as the availability of cheap supermarket booze that is predominantly consumed at home.”

The BBC was approached for comment but had not responded by time of publication.

Related topics: Beer

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