Portman Group Panel upholds complaints against three beers

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel has upheld complaints about two beers: Purity Brewing’s Lawless and United Dutch Breweries Oranjeboom 8.5%.

The Panel upheld a complaint about Purity Brewing’s product Lawless because, it ruled, the name was “inherently problematic” because it created “a direct link to illegal behaviour”.

Chair of the Panel, Jenny Watson, said: “After considering all the arguments put forward by the producer, the Panel decided that ‘Lawless’ was fundamentally incompatible with the rule that alcoholic products should not suggest any association with illegal behaviour. The Panel’s concern was about the product name alone. We acknowledged that the Code breach was unintentional but it could not be justifiable through the contextualisation on the can given the nature of the Code.”

The Panel also upheld a complaint about United Dutch Breweries product Oranjeboom 8.5% because it said the “higher alcoholic strength of the product was given undue emphasis”.

The complainant expressed concern that the product put undue emphasis on its alcoholic strength by including the word ‘extra’ next to strong and that this went beyond giving factual information about the product.

Watson said: “The Panel’s decision on Oranjeboom 8.5% highlights that when unit content is close to four units, producers should carefully consider the risk of encouraging immoderate consumption or appealing to vulnerable consumers. The Panel considered factors that would reduce this risk such as a recommendation to share the contents or per-serve messaging. Unfortunately, in the case of Oranjeboom 8.5% these elements were not included on the can and this gave the higher alcoholic strength of the product undue emphasis and risked encouraging immoderate consumption.”

United Dutch Breweries already voluntarily decided to replace Oranjeboom 8.5% abv on the UK market for a lower abv variant. As of this month only the new lower abv variant will be sold in the UK, so Oranjeboom 8.5% will be phased out.

Separately, the Panel also assessed two complaints against beers produced by Bristol brewer Lost and Grounded.

A complaint against one beer (Running with Sceptres India Pale Lager) was upheld while the other (Keller Pils) wasn’t. 

The complainant expressed concern that both products were likely to appeal to children because of the cartoon-style drawings on the can, which, the complainant said, made associations to the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, and, in the case of Keller Pils, the children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows. 

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