Drinkers Sue Anheuser-Busch InBev for Watering Down Beers

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Budweiser may want its consumers to turn to their brethren and say, “This Bud’s for you,” but there is a growing number of its flock that is increasingly upset with the brand.

Several new class-action suits against Anheuser-Busch filed in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey claim that the brewer has been watering down 10 of its products, including Budweiser, Michelob and Hurricane High Gravity Lager in order to boost its own profits, NBC News reports. The word is that a few former employees have shared with others that the company waters down some of its brands “just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3 percent to 8 percent.” Similar suits are planned for Colorado and Ohio. [more]

It may be taking some consumers a little bit longer to get inebriated and that has got them steamed. AB InBev, of course, is saying that the lawsuits are completely “groundless”: “Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws,” said Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply, NBC reports. “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.” 

This comes on the heels of Maker’s Mark recently going back on its plan to water down its bourbon a little bit after it got an overwhelmingly poor reaction from its fans. “We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark,” the company said in a statement. “While we thought we’re doing what’s right, this is your brand you told us in large numbers to change our decision.” And so they did. “You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”

If the allegations against AB InBev are true, the world’s largest brewer could have saved itself a boatload. The lawsuit claims that the company made $22 billion in profit in 2011 after churning out 10 billion gallons of malt beverages worldwide, 3 billion of which came from the U.S.

The lawsuit claims that the watering down did not begin until after Anheuser-Busch merged with InBev in 2008. “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. Josh Boxer, the lead attorney for the suit in California, said that the eventual cash reward “could be quite significant based on the volume of products that AB produces a year,” Bloomberg reports.

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