Brew Dogs is an explosive craft brewery in the United Kingdom that is creating American style craft beer. They have gained exceptional notoriety for having an amazing collection of delicious craft beers. From the hoppy and high carbonated IPAs to their insanely strong Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Brew Dogs has a well earned reputation. They even have a popular television series of the same name.
Recently they released a new beer called Dead Pony Club a sessionable beer with some testosterone-ladened labels with phrases like “rip it up down empty streets”, “drink fast, live fast”, and “we believe faster is better”.
This marketing language steeped in manly bravado was not considered humorous to the Portman Group who regulate the promotion and regulation of alcohol in the United Kingdom. While the group concluded that Dead Pony Club’s labeling did not promote excessive consumption of beer, especially considering the beer is 3.8% ABV, they felt the marketing language encouraged “anti-social behaviour” and encouraged the consumer to drink the beer rapidly.
Henry Ashworth of the Portman Group and Independent Complaints Panel said:
The Code rules do not exist to prevent humorous or innovative brand marketing but to make sure that humour is used responsibly. We urge producers to exercise due diligence and consult our Code Advisory Team if they are in any doubt
Brew Dogs took their comments under advisement and issues a heartfelt apology to the Portman Group. They are deeply apologetic for being so totally awesome.
On behalf of BrewDog PLC and its 14,691 individual shareholders, I would like to issue a formal apology to the Portman Group for not giving a shit about today’s ruling. Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a shit about anything the Portman Group has to say, and treating all of its statements with callous indifference and nonchalance.
Unfortunately, the Portman Group is a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants. Their raison d’être is to provide a diversion for the true evils of this industry, perpetrated by the gigantic faceless brands that pay their wages. Blinkered by this soulless mission, they treat beer drinkers like brain dead zombies and vilify creativity and competition. Therefore, we have never given a second thought to any of the grubby newspeak they disseminate periodically.
While the Portman Group lives out its days deliberating whether a joke on a bottle of beer is responsible or irresponsible use of humour, at BrewDog we will just get on with brewing awesome beer and treating our customers like adults. I’m sure that makes Henry Ashworth cry a salty tear into his shatterproof tankard of Directors as he tries to enforce his futile and toothless little marketing code, but we couldn’t give a shit about that, either.
While the Portman Group recovers from the severe burns issued via that apology it appears that Brew Dogs has no desire to change any aspect of their business for an oversight committee it clearly doesn’t believe needs exist.
It appears that the Portman Group’s authority in this situation is rather toothless and has no real authority to change the language of the Brew Dogs label nor take the beer off the shelves at bottle shops and bars. Thus Brew Dogs is allowed to thumb their nose at the Portman Group without real consequence.
In general, I imagine it unwise to start an adversarial relationship with a regulatory group regardless of its punitive power; however, I have to applaud the Scottish brewing company for laughing in the face of a clearly absurd ruling. If they want to distribute to a market that has a regulatory agency with a better sense of humor, they are always welcome to start shipping to America.