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UK Brewers Say Their New 18% Beer Can Help Solve Binge Drinking Problems. Activists Disagree.

posted 02:38 AM EST, Tue July 28, 2009
UK Brewers Say Their New 18% Beer Can Help Solve Binge Drinking Problems. Activists Disagree. © Photo Credit Mighty Min

While health advocacy groups have railed against the launch of a new super strength beer, the brewers say that their brew offers so much flavor and body – that imbibers won’t need more than a bit to feel sated.

Is super strength 18% beer the answer to endemic binge drinking problems in the UK?

The independent Scottish brewers of a new beer named “Tokyo” by BrewDog, which comes in at a whopping 18.2% alcohol, say that their new beer is so rich and tasty, that people won’t need to drink so many of them. In fact, they consider the super strength beers they produce, “A cure to binge drinking.”

Others would disagree.

Alcohol Focus Scotland President, Jack Law, said, "This company is completely deluded if they think that an 18.2% abv, (alcohol by volume), beer will help solve Scotland's alcohol problems." He called the makers of Tokyo “completely irresponsible” to bring to market a beer with so much alcohol at a time when Scotland faces such an alcohol crisis.

One bottle of Tokyo contains 6 UK alcohol units. Four small bottles of beer contains almost as much alcohol as a 26 oz (750ml) bottle of vodka or whiskey.

James Watt, BrewDog’s founder, protested the criticisms, saying, "People that criticize us have no understanding of our brand or our customers.” He argues that the price, of almost 10 pounds per bottle, “encourages responsible consumption” and that the product is marketed to real beer lovers.

The British Liver Trust doesn’t quite concur with Watt’s assessment of the product’s benefits, with a spokesperson for the organization saying, "Glamorizing the strength of beer won't deter people from drinking heavily. On the contrary, the notion of binge-drinking is to get drunk quick, so surely this beer will help people on their way."

The brewers certainly don’t shy away from controversy. An earlier this year beer production run was named “speedball” and drew great criticism from addiction activists who protested the name, which is also a street name for an injected cocktail of heroin and cocaine.

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