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The quartet of beers mimicked well-known non-alcoholic drinks

Industry watchdog The Portman Group has 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”.

The beers, launched as part of the Welsh craft brewer’s ‘January series’, mimicked popular non-alcoholic drink brands and were sold under the tagline ‘Made with love and fun to help chase away the January blues’.

The products were: Hywl Peanut Butter Flapjack IPA, Monstar Hawaiian Punch IPA, TinyFast Milkshake IPA and Primed Blue Raspberry IPA.

All four products saw complaints upheld for encouraging irresponsible consumption, and “in varying degrees” for suggesting they “had therapeutic qualities, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, and change mood or behaviour”, The Portman Group said.

Three of the products were also upheld for having particular appeal to under-18s, whilst one – TinyFast – was rapped for encouraging consumers to drink rapidly. 

The chair of The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel Nicola Williams said it was “socially irresponsible” for Tiny Rebel to “mimic well-known non-alcoholic drink brands that are marketed on the grounds of weight loss, meal replacement and performance-enhancing properties on alcoholic drinks packaging in such a flagrant manner”.

“All brands work hard to ensure that certain connotations are linked with their products and alcohol producers must remember that stricter rules apply in this space,” she added.

The rulings are far from the first time Tiny Rebel has fallen foul of The Portman Group’s guidance.

The Newport-based brewery has seen complaints upheld on more than half a dozen previous occasions, dating back to 2017.

Tiny Rebel has been critical of the organisation in the past, but The Portman Group’s CEO Matt Lambert said the brewer had taken on board the latest rulings in a “constructive” manner.

“There can be serious pitfalls when mimicking well-known non-alcoholic drinks brands,” he said. “The independent complaints panel do not consider producer intentions when reviewing product packaging, but these cases represent a continuation of concerning behaviour by Tiny Rebel.

“We have had constructive conversations with them and I sincerely hope the producer learns from this and ensures its products are compliant in the future by working with The Portman Group’s advisory service.”

A Tiny Rebel spokesperson said: “We are proud to have raised a significant amount of money from the sale of each of these beers which went directly into our Tiny Rebel Community Fund. The money raised has already started to be awarded to community projects around the UK.

“As code signatories and an alcohol producer we take our responsibilities very seriously, and have now started to use The Portman Group’s advisory service to sense-check our marketing campaigns as well as can designs.”