EX-FORMULA 1 champion Jody Scheckter has won the qualifying round in the battle of the bottles.
The Laverstoke landowner and brewer has been told by a booze industry watchdog that shops and supermarkets can stock his beer, even though they still say his labels are against their guidelines.
Last October, Portman Group advised shops not to stock Mr Scheckter’s beers because the labels, which feature a coloured drawing by his son when he was young, appealed to children.
They issued a retailer alert bulletin, asking for the organic ale and lager, made at the farm near Overton, to be removed from the shelves by January 7 this year.
But Portman has now withdrawn its previous advice, saying: “Licensed retailers may, if they wish, continue to stock/order the product with its current packaging until further notice.”
However, while welcoming the decision, Mr Scheckter said it was still not the equivalent of the chequered flag for his range of beers, and he was considering his next move. He said: “I don’t think this will be the end of the saga.”
He fought Portman’s decision to prevent the sale of his product, pointing out that 170,000 bottles had been sold without complaint, adding: “No one in their right mind believes four-year-olds will drink beer because of our label.”
His son Freddie drew the picture of his dad wearing green wellies and overalls a decade ago, and the image is used on all of Laverstoke’s products.
Portman said: “The Panel acknowledged that the company had not deliberately set out to make its alcoholic products appeal to under-18s but, nonetheless, considered that while the image of ‘Mr Laverstoke’ was fine on the non-alcoholic products, it was not appropriate for use on their alcoholic products and it could cause confusion for the consumer.”
They said the label could appeal to younger children.
Mr Scheckter previously told The Gazette that re-branding the product could be disastrous.