The UK arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev has defended its use of a lobbying agency to remove references to the term 'wife beater' from the Wikipedia page for its Stella Artois lager brand.

A-B InBev UK confirmed to just-drinks today (4 January) that it retains Portland Communications to "support its corporate communications team", and, as part of that remit, Portland deleted the phrase on the Stella Artois page of the user-generated encyclopedia. The brand, which is the biggest UK beer brand in the off-trade by value and volume, has been nicknamed 'wife beater' by some UK consumers in recent years, although the phrase's origins are unclear.

Following a report in The Independent newspaper earlier today (4 January), a spokesperson for A-B InBev UK said that the employment of Portland to remove the reference was an attempt to “challenge any connections between our brands and domestic violence”.

"InBev UK employs Portland Communications to support our corporate communications team,” the spokesperson told just-drinks. “Our products are brewed to be enjoyed responsibly and we wholeheartedly disapprove of any content that treats domestic violence in a dismissive or light-hearted manner.

“Part of our work with Portland has been to challenge any connections between our brands and domestic violence,” the spokesperson added, noting that the changes, made by a user called Portlander10, “was undertaken within Wikipedia's guidelines”.

One theory behind the use of the term to describe Stella Artois stems from a scene from the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire.