Brutal Fruit is not a beer, beer maker SAB insists – but it will change labels anyway

Business Insider SA
Brutal Fruit
Brutal Fruit Ruby Apple Spritzer
  • South African Breweries – which makes a lot of beer – insists its Brutal Fruit spritzers are not beers.
  • A court ordered SAB to change the labels on some flavours of Brutal Fruit, because rather than fruit drinks, they are ales.
  • An ale is a subset of beer.
  • But the absence of malt means Brutal Fruit is not, in fact, a beer, says SAB.
  • For more stories, go to

Last week the high court ruled that South African Breweries (SAB) must change the labels on some flavours of Brutal Fruit, which are ales, and so can not be marketed as alcoholic fruit drinks.

An ale is a type of beer.

But even as SAB, which makes a lot of beer, is in the process of changing its packing and labelling, it insists that Brutal Fruit is not a beer.

SAB could not on Thursday provide the full new wording it will use to avoid the injunction against marketing its ales as fruit drinks, though it said the changes would – in compliance with the court order – be rolled out on Friday, 18 December.

"South African legislation states to be classified as a beer, you must contain 50% malt," said SAB. "Brutal Fruit has no malt in it, and is not a beer."

Instead, it says, Brutal Fruit is a unique infusion of sparkling water, fruit flavourings – and maize.

“These delicious ingredients have always been displayed on the Brutal product/packaging. Ever since Brutal Fruit Spritzer hit the shelves in 2018, its unique blend of ingredients has never changed,” it said.

Competitor Distell – which makes alcoholic drinks from fruit under the Savanna and Bernini brands – successfully argued before first advertising regulators and then in legal proceedings, that the "alcoholic fruit blend" phrase used on Brutal Fruit’s Ruby Apple and Strawberry Rouge flavours was misleading.

Consumers, Distell said in essence, may think such a description means they are drinking something derived from fermented fruit juice, when in fact they were getting a grain-based preparation.

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