Christmas Jumper: Name of beer leaves a bad taste

The offending beer label
The offending beer label
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A BEER which appears to poke fun at a notorious suicide spot has been criticised by a widow who spent years trying to stop people jumping to their deaths.

The Gazette revealed exclusively on Wednesday that an Eastbourne brewery is marketing its latest Christmas tipple as The Beachy Head Christmas Jumper, complete with a label showing the infamous suicide spot.

Head brewer Roger Green insisted the name had been a complete coincidence after the beer started life with a pump clip showing Santa in a big woolly pullover.

However, that explanation failed to stop the dark ale making headline news, with a host of national newspapers, local press and the BBC following up on the story.

Now Keith Lane, who says he has saved a host of potential suicide victims since 2004, has joined a growing list of locals calling for the beer to be rebranded – something the brewery says it is reluctant to do.

He told the Herald, “Having lost my wife at Beachy Head and then spent nearly four years stopping people from jumping I find the dark ale called Beachy Head Christmas Jumper in very bad taste.”

And in a defiant message to Beachy Head Brewery, he said, “I see you are reluctant to change the name. Perhaps you will think long and hard before someone else jumps to their death.”

He did, however, add that he did not believe the beer would encourage anyone to take their own life, more than it was insensitive to those who are left mourning those who have.

Mr Lane was far from the only disgruntled readers to contact the Herald. Trevor Moule told the paper, “As a crew member of the Eastbourne inshore lifeboat l would like to invite the CEO of the brewery to recover the next casualty.” And another local, Ann Sanderson, said, “What a deplorable lack of taste, integrity, and consideration.

“I certainly won’t buy with that label,” while Shirley Noble said, “I hope that this is some kind of joke. The people that are selling it seem to have no feelings or thought for any tragedies that have happened there.” However, not everyone was so anti the brewery, which maintains it was nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek play on the fact so many people are given Christmas jumpers at this time of year.

Derek Legg was among those to offer his support to the brewers. He said, “I assumed the name was in the joking spirit of other brewers’ seasonal ales and assumed it ‘keeps you warm’.

“It’s sad that one or two people have associated the name of the brewery with the well-known cliff’s reputation. The picture of the cliffs appears on most of their labels.

“How many disabled people have taken offence at Beachy Head Brewery’s Legless Rambler [another of its beers].

“Please accept the names of the brews in the punning spirit in which they are meant and don’t try to read something darker into them.”

James Lane though, was another reader who remained unconvinced. He said, “In some ways, it mirrors the mindless insensitivity of louts who wreck memorial benches, or daub actual war memorials. Of course it’s insensitive.”

l What do you think about the name of the beer? Do you think people are making a mountain out of a molehill? Let us know by emailing eastbourne.herald@trbeckett.co.uk