So it’s official, our beer has been effectively banned or, at least, it’s name has.
That’s right. Our Psycho range has been officially censored by the Portman Group because it creates “an association with violent and aggressive behaviour”. (Obviously, now that we are aware that the name alone could cause you to punch a passing child, we’ll desist from mentioning it again.)
In case you haven’t heard of the Portman Group, it promotes responsible drinking and slaps the wrists of producers that it considers are doing the opposite.
It is funded by pillars of the responsible drinking culture such as Jagermeister and Carlsberg. It has even made decisions that go against some of its 11 corporate funders in the past. It is debatable whether this has made the people who down their cheaply priced, mass marketed products every weekend do so anymore safely or decorously. And it certainly hasn’t gone any way to improving the quality of the trash these behemoths of booze pump out to the populace.
All this aside, we are very much in favour of responsible drinking and we support the principles the Portman Group stand for. This is why we make beers - including the now officially proscribed killer drink - expressly intended for people who want to savour and enjoy their beer rather than get mindlessly smashed and have a fight outside a chip shop.
This doesn’t stop us being, frankly, a bit annoyed with the decision the group have come to relating to our own bottled Norman Bates.
The main problem we have with the Portman Group’s decision making process is that they seem beholden to make a judgment, no matter how many complaints they have received.
In the case of Psy- sorry, the aforementioned aggressive brew - the group received only one complaint.
For the record, the reason for the name in the first place was because this is a range of beers intended to expand your mind when it comes to beer. We aren’t so naive or disingenuous to pretend that we weren’t aware of the other connotations (eg. relating to Patrick Bateman or Donald Trump) but it wasn’t the main driver behind the choice.
Prior to the single complaint thousands of people had bought and enjoyed the product. However, as a small, local business, we have been put in the position of having to make expensive and time-consuming changes to our labelling because of the concerns of one person.
If you’re Heineken or SABMiller or one of the Portman Group’s other 11 financiers it is probably a bit easier to absorb the cost of changing labelling and rejigging a range. For us it is, to put it bluntly, an expensive and annoying ball ache.
Of course, the Portman Group’s decisions aren’t binding and we don’t have to take any notice of them. But, again unlike those other Portman Group funders and promoters of restraint Diageo or Heineken, we aren’t quite big enough to risk alienating our retailers with negative PR brought about by ignoring a decision made by a national trade body.
Therefore, for us, it’s easier just to drop the name entirely, get on with business and put all this silliness behind us. Frankly, we don’t have enough time to reply to the Portman Group’s emails anymore.
Luckily - again unlike most of the PG’s funders - we know that people buy our products because of what is in the bottle rather than what’s on it and that if we lose the name then the taste will remain. Lovers of our dearly departed demented drink will still be able to enjoy it.
What’s more, they’ll now be able to do so without the inherent risk of it spurring them into unbridled aggression and violence, which we’re sure is a relief to everyone.
Oh, and if anyone has got any suggestions for a new name then, as always get in touch.