Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Speedball beer facing sales ban

BrewDog's Speedball
BrewDog was criticised by the Portman Group for its Speedball

A beer called Speedball has been criticised amid claims it promotes the drugs mix that killed actors John Belushi and River Phoenix.

Speedballing is the name given to combining heroin and cocaine.

A complaint has been upheld against Fraserburgh's BrewDog under the drinks industry watchdog the Portman Group's code of practice.

However, a BrewDog spokesman said Speedball was "for those who enjoy a quality beer responsibly".

David Poley, Portman Group chief executive, said the marketing was grossly irresponsible.

'Completely misguided'

He said: "The blurring of alcohol and illicit drugs fosters unhealthy attitudes to drinking and trivialises drug misuse.

"BrewDog is profiteering from the scourge of illegal drugs, mocking the misery caused by misuse.

"The company is seriously misguided in its claim to be educating and preventing people from misusing drugs. We are taking urgent action to protect the public from exposure to such negligent marketing."

The Portman Group said a retailer alert bulletin will be issued to retailers urging them to remove the drink from sale until its marketing is altered to comply with the code.

John Belushi [Pic: AP] and River Phoenix
Actors John Belushi and River Phoenix died after combining drugs

BrewDog criticised the call by the Portman Group for retailers to remove their drink Speedball from the shelves.

Co-founder of BrewDog, Martin Dickie, said: "The Portman Group are completely misguided in saying that Speedball is going to be pulled from the shelves across the UK.

"Their note is a recommendation to retailers, nothing more, and secondly, this is an extremely exclusive drink for beer connoisseurs, it's not as if it is available in every shop which sells alcohol.

"This is a drink which, in the UK, had a release of 1,184 bottles and cost 3 a bottle, so Speedball is for those who enjoy a quality beer responsibly and enjoy a premium drink at a premium price."

He added: "The Portman Group has attacked us for our marketing instead of going after the companies who are mass-selling products cheaply and causing the nation's alcohol problems."

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