Cider brewers slam disgraceful decision to ban drink for being too sexual

A UK brewery has hit back after one of its award-winning drinks was branded "too sexual".

The Bearded Brewery slammed the UK's alcohol industry regulator's decision to ban its cherry-flavoured cider, "Unshaven Maiden", calling it "utterly disgraceful".

The company came under fire after a columnist criticised the drink's name while on holiday in Cornwall, and since then the brand has come under fire for its overt "sexual content".

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The beverage's logo, a topless mermaid on a pirate ship whose breasts are covered by long red hair and a beard, also came under scrutiny.

And now founder Robbie Langouroux-Fay has claimed alcohol labelling regulation body the Portman Group has been trying to get the tipple axed.

Langouroux-Fay told CornwallLive: "I’m a dad of an 11-year-old and five-year-old girls. I’m a family man. The complaint is ridiculous.

"What the Portman Group have written back to us is quite shocking. They’re implying that our product and our brewery support people looking to sleep with underage girls. It’s utterly disgraceful.

"This is a dark place. It’s something we had not even thought of when we came up with the name. Who thinks that? It just reflects back on them. I told them as much."

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The Portman Group said a complaint had been made under the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks in a letter to the Bearded Brewery, seen by CornwallLive.

The complaint said the mermaid was too life-like and too prominent compared with the rest of the image and the name of the tipple could be understood to refer to a "virgin or unmarried young woman".

The letter read: "The panel noted that 'maiden' could relate to a virgin or an unmarried young woman.

"The overall impression conveyed by the product packaging meant that the overriding meaning communicated was a deliberate double entendre with strong sexual connotations.

"Furthermore, the panel expressed concern that 'search for the cherry’d treasure', when understood in the wider context of searching for a young virgin woman, suggested that seeking out virgins was in some way acceptable."

Langouroux-Fay, who runs the brewery in St Mawgan, near Newquay, added: "To think that’s what we’re trying to portray is shocking.

"To imply that we would encourage people to have sex with young girls is disgusting."

Last year a preliminary hearing took place following the complaint, which was upheld in a meeting held this month.

Langouroux-Fay is now waiting to hear the outcome of a final appeal against the decision – and it's not the first time the brewery has found itself in hot water over its branding.

The cidermaker had to cease production of the 7.8% Suicyder in 2019 after it was found the name and image of a noose used on its packaging, as well as the high percentage of the drink, linked alcohol with suicide.

The Portman Group states it can issue a retailer alert bulletin and stop the sale of a product if producers do not take action within three months.

It said: "Most producers will make changes to their packaging to bring it in line with the Code or voluntarily remove it from the UK market. If a retailer continues to stock a flagged product then we may contact the relevant licensing authorities."

The Daily Star has contacted the Portman Group for comment.

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