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Beak Brewery responds to Portman Group complaint ruling

Beak Brewery has been forced to change the label design on one of its core beers following a complaint to the industry’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP), but owner Daniel Tapper has chosen to see the ruling as a “learning experience”.

Alcohol marketing regulator the Portman Group’s ICP has ruled in favour of a complaint made in December last year against six Beak Brewery products.

The complaint, lodged by a member of the public, expressed concern that the bright, cartoon branding on Beak Brewery products may have particular appeal to under-18s, under Code rule 3.2(h).

Portman Group’s panel considered a total of nine products under the code, and upheld complaints against six of them.

Only one core beer has been impacted by the ruling, and the panel’s decision has prompted Beak Brewery to alter the design of Beak Déšt’ Czech Pils.

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Daniel Tapper, the Lewes-based brewery’s owner, told the drinks business: “The label we are having to change is only really going to have to be tweaked as opposed to removed.” The label depicts what Tapper described as an “anthropomorphised” sun and moon, and the complaint means that “we’re going to have to tweak it so that they’re not anthropomorphised in some way”.

Beak Brewery responds to Portman Group complaint ruling

Tapper is taking the decision in his stride. “we’re trying to see this as a positive learning experience,” he said. “it’s not like they’ve said we have to renovate the entire label.”

The five remaining products impacted by the upheld complaints were all limited edition releases. “It’s just a big relief for us in the fact that it only affects one of our beers,” Tapper said. “The other beers that were complained about were all one-offs.”

The limited edition beers for which the complaint was upheld include Beak Friends 8% DIPA, Beak Illu 6.5% IPA, Surps 8% DIPA, Columns 6.5% IPA and Creeks 6.3% Bright IPA.

Tapper said: “Essentially it was a batch of beers where the design was slightly different from our usual approach, and it obviously irked a member of the public.”

A complaint was also upheld for the Beak Gift Pack for appealing to under 18s.

“moving forward we will obviously try to avoid those things, because we don’t want to have to deal with this again,” he said. The team behind the core beer, Beak Déšt’ Czech Pils, are disappointed to have to change the design — something “we absolutely adore”, Tapper said. “People even have tattoos of it, so it is a shame to have to change it,” the brewer said.

Tapper said he was not concerned about the brewery’s general branding, particularly in light of the products for which the complaint was not upheld. The three remaining products are Hum 4.8% Pale, Beak Nonic 8% DIPA and Beak and the Red Leviathan 6.8% Sour Pale.

“It’s something that every brewer worries about to a certain extent,” he commented. This is the first time a complaint has been lodged against the brewery’s branding. “I’ve been brewing beer under the name Beak for about eight years, and we’ve never had a complaint and we’ve put out over a million cans. It only takes one person to lodge a complaint and it has to go to a hearing.”

He said of the Portman Group: “Although we didn’t agree with their decisions, it’s easier to work with them.”

Beak Brewery will be releasing cans with the new design from end of July.

Last week, db reported on Portman Group’s decision not to uphold a complaint by a member of the public calling Twickenham Brewery’s ‘Naked Ladies’ beer pump clip inappropriately sexualised. Read more on that, and on CAMRA’s response to the ruling, here.

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