Suits: More water, less buzz in Bud, Michelob beer

Anheuser-Busch accused of watering down beer
Associated Press
Feb 27, 2013

 

Beer lovers across the U.S. have accused Anheuser-Busch of watering down its Budweiser, Michelob and other brands, in class-action suits seeking millions in damages.

The suits, filed in Pennsylvania, California and other states, claim consumers have been cheated out of the alcohol content stated on labels. Budweiser and Michelob each boast of being 5 percent alcohol, while some "light" versions are said to be just over 4 percent.

The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company's 13 U.S. breweries, some in high-level plant positions, according to lead lawyer Josh Boxer of San Rafael, Calif.

"Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products mentioned (in the lawsuit) are watered down," Boxer said. "It's a simple cost-saving measure, and it's very significant."

The excess water is added just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3 percent to 8 percent, he said.

Anheuser-Busch InBev called the claims "groundless" and said its beers fully comply with labeling laws.

"Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world," Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply, said in a statement.

The suit involves 10 Anheuser-Busch products: Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.

Anheuser-Busch, based in St. Louis, Mo., merged with InBev in 2008 to form the world's largest alcohol producer, headquartered in Belgium. In 2011, the company produced 10 billion gallons of malt beverages, 3 billion of them in the U.S., and reported $22 billion in profits from that category, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the company has sophisticated equipment that measures the alcohol content throughout the brewing process and is accurate to within one-hundredth of a percent. But after the merger, the company increasingly chose to dilute its popular brands of beer, the lawsuit alleged.

"Following the merger, AB vigorously accelerated the deceptive practices described below, sacrificing the quality products once produced by Anheuser-Busch in order to reduce costs," said the lead lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of consumers in the lower 48 states.

Companion suits are being filed this week in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere. Each seeks at least $5 million in damages.

The named Pennsylvania plaintiffs, Thomas and Gerald Greenberg of Ambler, said they buy six cases of the affected Anheuser-Busch products a month. They did not immediately return a message Tuesday, and Boxer would not elaborate on their purchases except to say the consumer-protection suit does not involve retailers or bar owners.

One of the California plaintiffs, Nina Giampaoli of Sonoma County, said she bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week for the past four years.

"I think it's wrong for huge corporations to lie to their loyal customers — I really feel cheated. No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels," Giampaoli said in a news release issued by Boxer's law firm.

Bloomberg News first reported Tuesday on the lawsuits.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Boxer said he has evidence to corroborate the former employees' allegations, but stopped short of saying the beers had been independently tested.

"AB (Anheuser-Busch) never intends for the malt beverage to possess the amount of alcohol that is stated on the label. As a result, AB's customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell," the lawsuit said.

 

Comments

Contango

Have a boilermaker - won't notice the difference.

Pterocarya frax...

Of course...make up any reason that makes it seem okay for the large corporation to defraud the customer.

Contango

@ Pf:

Too much water, not enough water, never touch the swill.

How does an accusation equate to guilt?

Trustafarian

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Trustafarian

How is stating that Budweiser is close to water off topic?

Trustafarian

That's why I drink rubbing alcohol.

Rod Farva

I like anti freeze

Trustafarian

So do the neighborhood cats.

Rod Farva

Especially when its mixed in with cat food and out out on the porch

Trustafarian

I put it under the hood, near the fan belt. I feel I get more bang for the buck that way.

Rod Farva

Well played

Trustafarian

And very well played by you too Sir. Now we can sit back and watch the moderator destroy our sandcastle of sarcasm.

Rod Farva

Haha i dont find this off topic at all

Trustafarian

It's not like we're killing a Rottweiler or anything.

Rod Farva

I thought about it, but i dont want pesky trash protesting on my front lawn

Trustafarian

You could hand out job applications. That should scare them off.

Rod Farva

Great idea!

rickross2

That my good sir is hilarious.

Huron_1969

George Busch's fault !

Tsu Dho Nimh

LOL

njs60

Beer makes you smart....It made Bud Wiser

Trustafarian

God is perfect, man is not.
Man made beer, God made pot.

rickross2

Truer words were never spoke.

meowmix

Nothing worse than picking up neighbor's dog Schlitz off your front yard.

Fromthe419

Oh the humanity, guess we'll have to get a 12 and 6 to get the same buzz as a 12.

doc5798a

Trustafairy must not work either, he is on here at different hours of the day. I bet him and Rodney protest together.

gilamonster

You couldnt pay me to drink that union made urine water