Cider makers furious after their drink is banned because it's 'too sexual'

A cider maker says a complaint about his product being ‘too sexual’ is ‘utterly disgraceful.’

The Bearded Brewery has been left fuming after the UK’s alcohol industry’s regulator banned its cherry-flavoured ‘Unshaven Maiden’.

Its logo depicts a mermaid on a pirate ship, her naked breasts partially covered by her long red beard and hair.

Founder Robbie Langouroux-Fay said the Portman Group, the regulator for alcohol labelling, has been trying to have the award-winning drink axed.

The complaint came after a drinks columnist took issue with the cider’s name during a holiday in Cornwall.

Since then, the 4% ABV cider has been in the firing line for its overt ‘sexual content’.

Robbie 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.’

The Bearded Brewery in St Mawgan, near Cornwall Airport Newquay, has often used pirate and biker-esque imagery on its products.

Its other products includ the 6.2% Storm Damage, the 5.5% Swallows Nest, the rather strong 8% Tanker Slapper, as well as the Moustache Mango cider, Shaky Todd and Pink Fluffer.

In a letter to the Bearded Brewery, which has been seen by CornwallLive, the Portman Group said the mermaid was too prominent compared with the rest of the ship and too life-like.

The complaint was made under the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The letter from the Portman Group reads: ‘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.’

Robbie said: ‘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.’

The Portman Group upheld the complaint from last year’s preliminary hearing at a more recent meeting this month.

Robbie said he’s filed one last appeal and is awaiting the outcome.

It is the second time the brewery has been in trouble over the name of its products. In 2019, the cidermaker had to stop producing its 7.8% Suicyder because it was deemed to create a link between alcohol and suicide, especially with such potent strength and a skull and noose for illustration.

On its website, the Portman Group said that if producers do not take action within three months, the group can issue a retailer alert bulletin which would stop the sale of any problematic product.

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 Portman Group has been contacted by for comment.

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