Beer Drinkers Sue Over Watered Down Brew

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

- attorney Josh Boxer

Anheuser-Busch is facing lawsuits by consumers in multiple states accusing the brewery of watering down its beers.

According to a complaint filed in federal court in Philadelphia, the brewer allegedly added extra water to its finished products to produce malt beverages with significantly less alcohol content than the 5 percent displayed on their labels, violating state statutes on consumer protection. Lawsuits making similar claims have been filed in federal courts in New Jersey and San Francisco. Each asks for damages exceeding $5 million.

According to Reuters, the lead lawsuit, which the company dismissed as groundless, says the alcohol content is mislabeled on the brands Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys plan to ask a judge to designate their legal challenges as a class-action lawsuit.

They are seeking restitution for U.S. consumers that they say could amount to tens of millions of dollars, and a court injunction to impose requirements on how Anheuser-Busch labels and regulates alcohol content in its beers.

Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply at Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement the lawsuits were “groundless” and the company’s beers were in “full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws.”

The plaintiffs in the lead lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco are Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert. Giampaoli for the past four years has bought a six-pack of Budweiser every week, the lawsuit said.

The suit accuses Anheuser-Busch of watering down beers right before bottling, which the complaint states shaves “the total alcohol content to well below the percentage stated” on labels. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said that, in court, they will seek to obtain documents from Anheuser-Busch’s in-house measurements to demonstrate how much the company’s beers are diluted.


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