17 October, 2008

Independents face unwarranted backlash

I was extremely distressed to read about the latest machinations of the Portman Group ( Oct 3). Suddenly the hammer of judgement looms over this country's independent brewers and retailers, it seems.

Do the brutes at


take the British public for a bunch of half-mad, drunken hoodlums?

Their motivation and twisted desire for control is maddening, illogical and has the stench of pettiness lingering in our upturned nostrils.

Let us put aside the great crimes of censorship and the foolish quest to homogenise an already beleaguered culture, and concentrate on the independent brewers and retailers that will be crushed under the jackboot of this new "audit".

With the supermarket wolf clawing at the back door, stealing sales with

irresponsible decadence , it is a bleak time for specialist retailers who not only offer a range to be applauded , but service, quality and humanity. When

these places are boarded up and branches of Bargain Booze


what will have been gained?

We have a fine selection of real ale,

an unending list of continental and world beers, as well as a wine range that Oz Clarke himself would revel in.

But what the shop also has is a

strict policy on the production of

ID. We know our customers and, like most independent specialist retailers, are keen to prevent under-age drinking and bad drunken behaviour in the local community . Would

staff at a

Bargain Booze or

Tesco Express be

as vigilant?

I fear

this labelling fiasco is an undeserved burden on

people who are making an honest living and catering for responsible



Orkney Brewery's

Skull Splitter

ale as a good example of this bureaucratic insanity. The name

is certainly quirky

but does it really imply that in drinking it you will mutate into an axe-wielding barbarian

The Orkney Brewery does not deserve to be clenched in the fist of madness in this way and that


is fighting the lunacy is admirable .

It concentrates on producing unique, quality ales for the connoisseur beer drinker -

its Dark Island Reserve

is a very high quality beer designed for savouring and sharing.


report s that

Skull Splitter is "hand crafted in small batches" and "5,000 years in the making" - hardly fuel for a gang of young party crashers intent on mischief and wild urination.


should overlook this lapse in judgement on

its part and concentrate on where the real problems lie: in extreme discounting


To think that small breweries

- where taste and quality are considered as important as how many units are shifted

- and independent retailers, who strive to

sell interesting and varied drinks of

quality, are somehow tearing apart

the fabric of law and order is misguided and dangerous.

My hope is that the good folk at

Orkney Brewery will follow their erstwhile countryman Thorfinn "Skull Splitter" Einarsson and continue the

good fight.

Graham Foster

The Bottle Stop, Stockport

Lost for words

The shop is empty , so I put the kettle on

and t ake a break to do the OLN crossword. Stuck at the first clue,

I carr y on with the rest, but there's no clue for four across.

I'm still determined to finish.

I come to the conclusion that

it can't be completed as number one across - firearm, five letters - belongs to four across, so one across has the wrong clue, meaning there are 13 words with six letters that could complete the crossword.

While on the subject ,

OLN crossword

33 had no date for closing entries printed on the entry form , so there,

another missed chance of winning.

Looking forward to your comments or even a free case of the Italian Job!

Ratan Valji

Deane Video Off-licence, Bolton

Apologies to all those who struggled

with the crossword, a winner was

picked regardless of the missing answer

to one across - Ed

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