This happened yesterday:
Scottish brewer BrewDog has had its Speedball beer brand pulled from UK shelves following a complaint about the product’s intimated link to drugs.
UK drinks industry body The Portman Group said today (20 January) that its independent complaints panel has upheld a complaint under the group’s code of practice, brought by Alcohol Focus Scotland, claiming the beer’s marketing is associated with illicit drugs.
Speedball is the name given to the practice of combining heroin and crack cocaine to give both sedative and stimulant effects, the Portman Group said.
The drink is marketed by BrewDog as a “class A ale” containing “a vicious cocktail of active ingredients” which creates a “happy-sad” effect.
“The blurring of alcohol and illicit drugs fosters unhealthy attitudes to drinking and trivialises drug misuse.,” said David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group. “BrewDog is profiteering from the scourge of illegal drugs, mocking the misery caused by misuse.
“We are taking urgent action to protect the public from exposure to such negligent marketing.”
A retailer alert bulletin will be issued to retailers in the UK, urging them to remove the drink from sale until its marketing is altered to comply with the code.
The co-founder of BrewDog, Martin Dickie, defended the company’s behaviour. “The Portman Group has attacked us for our marketing instead of going after the companies who are mass-selling products cheaply and causing the nation’s alcohol problems,” he said.
“This is a drink which, in the UK, had a release of 1,184 bottles and cost GBP3 a bottle, so Speedball is for those who enjoy a quality beer responsibly and enjoy a premium drink at a premium price.
“Technically, the name fits within the product. The ingredients are natural stimulants including guarana and kola nuts with natural depressants Californian poppy and hops, so it is a speedball of a combination.”
Love the beer, love the brewery. Agree with the point the lads are making. But at the same time, I’m not sure it was a great idea to launch this beer with the specific intention of getting this result. Yes, it gives them an opportunity to put a case forward, but in an attention-deficient age where most people read the headline and skim the rest of a story, I worry that if you just get the barest facts or read reports like this one half way, then you’re going to walk away on Portman’s side. Am I being an old fart about this?