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Scotland's BrewDog Apologises for 'Not Giving a S***' Over Dead Pony Club Pale Ale Marketing Ruling IBTimes UK

Scotland's largest independent brewery has apologised for its "indifference and nonchalance" towards a ruling by the Portman Group against its Dead Pony Club pale ale.

The Portman Group, a social responsibility body which regulates the British alcohol trade, had ruled that the label used to market Dead Pony Club bottles "encourages both anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking."

In response, James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said in a statement:

"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 s*** about today's ruling.

"Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a s***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."

But the scathing statement didn't stop there.

"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," added Watt.

Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a s***about anything the Portman Group has to say
- James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog

"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 [Portman Group chief executive] 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 s*** about that, either.

"We sincerely hope that the sarcasm of this message fits the Portman Group criteria of responsible use of humour."

Last week, IBTimes UK caught up with BottleDog, BrewDog's new London store that is the first in a series of bottle shops the brewery is planning to open in 2014.

Stocking over 250 different beers, as well as hosting four beers on tap, BottleDog is aiming to be the central hub for beer aficionados in London.

Brewdog's Dead Pony Ale
Brewdog's Dead Pony Ale Reuters

The Portman Group ruled on 28 April that the packaging of Dead Pony Club, a pale ale produced by BrewDog, has broken alcohol marketing rules for "encouraging both anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking".

The Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) considered the product following an independent audit of drinks last year, administered by Campden BRI on behalf of the Portman Group.

"Dead Pony Club's packaging was identified as being in potential breach of the Code for its association with bravado and immoderate consumption, and for placing undue emphasis on the strength and intoxicating effect of the alcohol in the product. The producer did not make representations to the Panel," said the group.

Unfortunately, the Portman Group is a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants
- James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog

"The Panel considered the overall impression conveyed by the product, the strength of the beer (Alc 3.8% Vol), as well as the text on the back label.

"Whilst acknowledging that the beer was of a lower-than-average strength and that one bottle was well within the recommended daily unit guidelines, the ICP concluded the line on the label, 'rip it up down empty streets', associated the product with anti-social behaviour."

"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," said Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which provides the Secretariat for the ICP.

A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued instructing licensees and retailers not to place orders for stocks of Dead Pony Club in its current packaging after 8 July 2014.