UK craft brewer Beak Brewery is set to change the label design of one of its “core” products after the country’s alcohol labelling watchdog upheld a complaint.

The brewery, based in Lewes, Sussex, is in discussions with regulator The Portman Group to change the label design of its Dest Pils beer following a ruling from the watchdog.

A member of the public objected to a series of Beak Brewery’s labels earlier this year, believing they could “inadvertently” appeal to under-18s due to “the bright, cartoon branding”.

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) upheld the complaint against the Dest Pils product, as well as five other limited-edition products. Beak Brewery said it will not re-release the limited-edition beers.

Rachel Childs, chair of the ICP, said: “The Code of Practice is clear that alcoholic drinks and their packaging should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18’s. While it was clear that the producer did not intend to market the drinks to under-18s, the panel found that several products breached the Code in this respect following a complaint from a member of the public.

“It’s really positive that the producer in this case has engaged fully with the Portman Group advisory service and agreed to make the necessary amendments to the packaging to bring it in line with the Code.”

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Ten products, including a gift pack, were considered in total by the ICP but the complaint was not upheld against three of them.

A Beak Brewery spokesperson said: “We were very surprised to hear [about the complaint] as it’s the first such complaint we’ve received in almost a decade of operation.

“We’re now working closely with The Portman Group to bring this design in line with the group’s labelling policy.

“Overall, it’s been a positive learning experience for us and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the group’s advisory service over the coming years.”

In 2022, Just Drinks sat down with The Portman Group CEO Matt Lambert to discuss the “common” issue of potential appeal to under-18s in alcoholic beverages.

He said: “You’ve got to be very careful with the cartoon thing. There have been instances where cartoons have been deemed acceptable on the grounds of being artistic but anything that is clearly child-like and could appeal to minors – large round eyes, that sort of thing – tends to be a problem.

“In 2015, the Panel sought expert opinion on marketing elements (such as imagery and colours) and what techniques are typically employed to attract the attention of children.

“This revealed that marketers often focus on the levels of luminance and contrast levels between colours. Bolder colours with greater contrast tend to gain the attention of children.

“The Panel has made it clear in past decisions that bright colours alone are not enough to breach the Codes under this rule. It is the overall impression conveyed by a product which will determine compliance.”