Super strength lagers, whose alcoholic content exceeds the Government's recommended drinking levels, do not encourage irresponsible drinking, writes Ewan Turney. That is according to the Portman Group's Independent Complaints Panel after it received a complaint from homeless charity Thames Reach. The charity complained that 500ml cans of Skol Super, Kestrel Super, Carlsberg Special Brew and Tennent’s Super encourage immoderate consumption and drunkenness. All these drinks contain 4.5 units despite the Government recommending that men should not regularly exceed three to four units of alcohol a day and women two to three units. Portman's panel interpreted the Government’s sensible drinking advice as guidelines rather than strict limits. They also expressed doubt over whether they could make a reasonable and objective distinction between cans of strong lager and bottles of cider and wine which also contain a high number of units and are not easily resealable. But the panel did find Kestrel Super in breach of the code on naming packaging and promotion because the strength of the drink was considered to be a dominant theme of its marketing. “While Panel members appreciated Thames Reach’s concerns, they decided that restricting container size would be inappropriate and liable to lead to inconsistencies," said Portman chief executive David Poley. "The phrasing of the Government’s sensible drinking advice raises questions over the rationality of treating four units as a strict threshold. The Panel also recognised the difficulties of distinguishing between cans of lager and bottles of wine or cider. “The Panel decided though that Kestrel Super contravenes our Code because its strength is a dominant theme of its marketing. "The packaging alludes to the drink’s strength in several places and this impression is re-inforced by the prominent image of the kestrel. "The brand’s owner, Wells and Young’s Brewing Company, has agreed to amend its packaging to comply with the Panel’s ruling.”