Northern Monk Portman Group

Both beers have been discontinued in their current format

A pair of craft beers from Northern Monk have been culled after violating the Portman Group’s code of practice.

The industry watchdog’s independent panel ruled Northern Monk’s Rocket Lolly IPA – sold until September in Sainsbury’s stores – had particular appeal to under-18’s, and that its Wasted Hot Cross Bun Pale Ale encouraged immoderate consumption and drunkenness.

Both brews have been discontinued in their current format, but a Northern Monk Wasted Pumpkin Spice Latte Porter with revised packaging remains on sale in Tesco

The Grocer understands Northern Monk made changes to the label following discussions with the Portman Group.

Northern Monk told The Grocer it had “taken on board feedback from The Portman Group” and would use it to “infrom future decisions around pack design”. 

“As seasonal products both Rocket Lolly and Hot Cross Bun Pale Ale are not on sale at this time,” the brewer added. 

Rocket Lolly, a 4.7% strawberry, orange and pineapple IPA, was highlighted by a complainant as being particularly appealing to their four-year-old child.

They said their child had become “very upset” after seeing its father drinking the beer and being told he was not allowed to try it.

“Of the dozens of different can designs he’s seen, this is the only one that has ever held appeal to him,” the complainant said.

The Portman Group’s independent panel considered the evidence and concluded the product failed to adequately convey its alcoholic nature.

“In the context of a well-known frozen ice lolly which made a virtue of its fruit flavours in design, the packaging should work harder to ensure that it communicated its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity,” it said.

Wasted Hot Cross Bun Pale Ale, meanwhile, was the subject of a complaint that said the word “wasted” was “the most prominent word on the packaging”.

The panel acknowledged the beer was intended to generate discussion about food waste in the UK, but said in the context of an alcoholic drink, the term would be “more readily associated with a style of consumption rather than food wastage”.

It upheld the complaint on the basis that the packaging indirectly encouraged consumption to excess.

“Producers of alcoholic drinks should take care to ensure their products are marketed responsibly, without a particular appeal to children and that they do not encourage, even indirectly, immoderate consumption,” said Rachel Childs, interim chair of The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel.

In September, the Portman Group issued a rebuke to Tiny Rebel Brewing Co after upholding complaints made against four beers that broke its code of conduct in “a flagrant manner”.