Wine expert Oz Clarke and Top Gear’s James May are understood to have started a row with the drinks industry body, The Portman Group, after the duo lashed out at the potential ban of a beer called Speedball. It is under investigation by the group for its associations with illegal drugs.
It is thought that the pair speak out against “nanny state” rules on alcohol packaging on the latest series of their BBC show.
Called “Oz and James Drink to Britain”, which started its second series on January 6, the duo are expected to vent their fury at the Portman Group in next week’s show, because of a potential threat to take the beer off the shelves.
The Portman Group has confirmed that it is investigating complaints against Speedball, because the beer is named after the heroin-cocaine mix that killed actors John Blushi and River Phoenix.
Speedball is produced by a Scottish microbrewery called BrewDog. It has been reported that if the Portman Group were to adjudicate against Speedball, or force it to change its packaging, the microbrewery will take the trade body to the European Court.
Clarke and May are expected to support the brewery and its intended battle with the industry body.
A spokesman for the Portman Group says that it continues to investigate the complaint, but that any association of an alcohol drink with illicit drugs is in breach of its self-regulatory code.
This is not the first time that the independent brewer has triggered controversy. Last year, there were complaints against BrewDog’s other products including Punk IPA, Rip Tide and Hop Rocker. The Portman Group received complaints that the names of the beers could encourage anti-social behaviour or violence. The Independent Complaints Panel dismissed the three complaints at the time.