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Scottish Brewery Faces Ban On “aggressive” Beer Names

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:28pm

A bitter ale, brewed by an independent Scottish brewery is coming under scrutiny because of its unusually “aggressive” name - Punk IPA, which some have ruled as promoting irresponsible drinking.

Along with Punk IPA, there are Hop Rocker and Rip Tide - all three made by BrewDog, based in Fraserburgh, which was created 18 months ago by two ex law student friends. The Portman Group, which is a self-regulating body industry body, have provisionally ruled that the names and what they are associated with are breaching marketing rules.

The group feel that Rip Tide being described as a “twisted merciless stout” could deem to be conjuring up images of antisocial behavior, while BrewDog saying that Hop Rocker is a “nourishing food stuff” and that “magic is still there to be extracted” was misleading people into thinking it would improve physical and mental capablities.

BrewDog have hit out at the decision, and fear that their business, which currently sells to Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Oddbins to name a few, could suffer huge financial losses, and even go under. They
will be given one chance to respond and form a case before the final decision is made.

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog with Martin Dickie, refutes the claims about the kind of behaviour and image their beers are promoting. Punk IPA is the most popular of thre three, and its advertising states “this is an aggressive beer, we don’t care if you don’t like it”. Mr Watt comments that this a reference to its strong taste in comparison with lighter lagers.

He said, “Our branding, our packaging, is a little bit edgy. The word ‘aggressive’ is used because of the biting bitterness in it. It’s a heavily hopped beer. It’s not something you can drink a lot of,”

“We could [change the label] but should we be pushed into changing our approach by our competitors? I think what they [the Portman Group] are doing flies in the face of anti-competition laws.”

He added that people becoming intoxicated and acting aggresively or anti-social, was in fact more common in lagers being brewed at a fraction of the price of his beer by the major companies.

In addition to targeting BrewDog’s beers, the Portman Group are currently looking to move forward against a ban on a beer named Skull Splitter, which has been made by the Orkney Brewery for the last twenty years and takes its name from Thorfinn Hausakluif’s nickname - who was the seventh Viking earl of Orkney. The group decided that the name had too many violent connotations as well being an unsavoury reference to what the beer could do to the drinker’s head.

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