NEWPORT brewery Tiny Rebel have become involved in a dispute with an alcohol watchdog for the second time in as many years due to the branding of one of their flagship brews.

A recent complaint about the can design of Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch has been upheld by The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel.

A previous design of the same product was also upheld by the panel in December 2017 due to a perceived appeal to under-18s. This decision resulted in Tiny Rebel undertaking a £30,000 rebrand of the cans.


The complaint was made by a member of the public, who claimed that the product looked like a fizzy energy drink and could appeal to teenagers. The complainant was worried that the product’s appearance could lead to underage drinking.

South Wales Argus:

Reviewing the product, the Portman Group’s panel noted:

• The Alcohol By Volume (ABV) was easily identifiable to consumers

• The product descriptor ‘Welsh Red Ale’ was unlikely to be confused with a soft drink

• The use of a cartoon teddy bear, bubble font and bright primary colours were problematic when considered together

South Wales Argus:

The panel believed the can sufficiently conveyed the alcoholic nature of the product and therefore did not uphold the complaint.

However, after considering that the presence of the teddy bear, bubble font and primary colours, they decided that the product had particular appeal to under-18s and therefore to uphold the complaint.

Commenting on the most recent decision, a Portman Group spokesperson said: “It is highly unusual for the panel to uphold a product twice within a two-year period but unfortunately they felt there remains a significant risk.

“We urge all producers to give great thought and care to the use of immature imagery and brand logos.”

South Wales Argus:

A Tiny Rebel spokesman said: “We believe that everything we do on our labelling and marketing clearly conveys that Tiny Rebel products are alcoholic.

“We clearly display the beer style and ABV on the front of our brands.

“In our nearly eight years of trading we have never received a direct complaint and the Portman Group have directly targeted our trademark bear logo as being appealing to under-18's without any factual evidence to back it up.

“We believe that on this occasion Portman Group have made a decision based not on facts but based on the opinion of the 10 people.

“This is proof that the Portman Group’s code of practice isn't fit for the craft beer industry and works on a totally subjective view.”

South Wales Argus:

John Timothy, Portman Group chief executive, said: “Following the 2017 ruling, Tiny Rebel worked with the advisory service to make a number of changes to the design.

“However, they were advised to remove the teddy bear logo from the front of the can and place it on the side or back.

“They failed to act on this advice, and this has resulted in a second breach of the code.

“As it stands, Tiny Rebel have declined to work with us. We will have little option but to issue a Retailer Alert Bulletin to protect the integrity of the self-regulatory system and public confidence in our effectiveness.”