Budweiser Watered Down? That's What at Least 3 Lawsuits Claim

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013 08:37 AM

By Megan Anderle

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Lawsuits amounting to upwards of $15 million suggest that Budweiser isn't the "King of Beers" as it claims to be. Instead, "King of Watered-Down Beers" might more accurately describes the company.

Three lawsuits — filed in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and San Francisco — contend AB InBev's Anheuser-Busch Cos. add extra water to their finished product, 11 brands in all, to stretch the quantity of alcohol the company can supply.

As a result, the beverages are sold at lower alcohol content than advertised. Each lawsuit seeks more than $5 million in damages, The Atlantic reported.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

The brands named in the lawsuit are:
  • Budweiser
  • Bud Ice
  • Bud Light Platinum
  • Michelob
  • King Cobra
  • Busch Ice
  • Black Crown
  • Bud Light Lime
  • Hurricane High Gravity Lager
  • Natural Ice
  • Michelob Ultra

Budweiser and Michelob each boast of being 5 percent alcohol, while some "light" versions are said to be just over 4 percent, NBC News reported.

The lawsuit alleges 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 Anheuser-Busch merged with InBev in 2008, making it the world's largest alcohol producer, the company increasingly chose to dilute its popular brands of beer.

Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, though, there is no science backing up their claims, as most of the evidence comes from "information from former workers" of Anheuser-Busch breweries who claim watering down the beer in post-production is a company policy.

AB InBev has yet to respond in court. Anheuser-Busch denies the allegations.

"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," said Peter Kraemer, vice-president of Anheuser-Busch, in a statement.

Maker's Mark caused controversy when it announced it would be watering down its bourbon to ward off potential shortages due to its rapid growth. However, the company reversed its decision once outrage ensued.

The Associated Press reported that AB InBev has been attempting since June to take over the half of Corona maker Grupo Modelo it doesn't already own for $20.1 billion, () but the deal was challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice over concerns it would make the company too dominant in the U.S. The company currently owns 39 percent of the U.S. beer market.

As a result, InBev announced a side-deal this month to sell the rights to market Corona in the U.S. to smaller competitor Constellation Brands, hoping that would appease regulators. The deal has not been sealed yet.

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

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