BrewDog debuted its Wingman Session IPA in September

BrewDog has avoided once again falling foul of the Portman Group’s code of practice, after a complaint about its new Wingman Session IPA appealing to children was not upheld.

The complaint, which BrewDog CEO James Watt claimed on LinkedIn had cost the brewer over £50,000 to defend, alleged the “cartoon anthropomorphised bird” on the front of Wingman could have particular appeal to under-18s.

The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel ruled, however, that the bird’s “stern, unfriendly expression” and “military pilot” outfit made it appear “more adult in nature”.

Assessing the packaging of the product in its entirety, the panel concluded that “the design was retro in style, mature and reasonably complex” and therefore did not constitute particular appeal to under-18s.

Chair of the independent complaints panel Rachel Childs said: “In this case, while the packaging was cartoon-like and the character was the dominant theme, it was clear from the overall impression of the product that it did not have a particular appeal to children.”

The panel also considered three other possible code violations, including whether the product “communicated its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity”, but found no breach of the code.

Writing on LinkedIn late last year, Watt said there was “no mechanism for recovering the time and money wasted on defending yourself” from complaints made to the Portman Group.

“If I wanted to distract my competitors and seriously dent their margins, I could do a lot worse than fire off spurious complaints,” he added.

BrewDog declined to comment further when approached by The Grocer.

The Scottish craft brewer has run foul of the Portman Group’s code of practice on numerous times over the past 15 years.

In 2015, BrewDog’s use of the phrase ‘Beer for Girls’ on a special edition version of its Punk IPA beer was deemed to have particular appeal to under-18s.

In 2009, the brewer threatened legal action against the regulator, after it ruled BrewDog’s release of the beer ‘Speedball’ breached the code of practice by making an association between alcohol and illegal drugs.

BrewDog later u-turned to drop its legal claim.