Is Budweiser Watered Down? Lawsuit Claims ‘King Of Beers’ Is Deceiving Customers

Budweiser
Lawsuits claim Anheuser-Busch is watering down its beers and deceiving consumers. Reuters

A $5 million class-action lawsuit has been filed claiming Budweiser is watered down. The lawsuits take aim at Anheuser-Busch and were filed after testimony from former employers who detailed the deceptive practice.

The class-action lawsuits were filed in several states, including Pennsylvania and California, reported CBS News. The lawsuit claims that Anheuser-Busch has a policy that entails watering down their product, including Budweiser and Michelob beers, thereby rendering the alcohol content reported on the label incorrect.

The lawsuits claims are based on testimony by former employees of Anheuser-Busch, working at the beer giant’s 13 breweries across America, noted CBS News. The lawsuits, filed by Joshua Boxer of the Mills Law Firm in San Rafael, Calif., claim the practice was implemented “in order to increase profits while overstating the percentage of alcohol on their products’ labels.”

The lawsuit states that Anheuser-Busch uses “process control technology” to monitor the alcohol content of its beers as it goes through production. At the end of this process, the company adds water to dilute the beer, reducing the alcohol content and “depriving consumers of the value they paid for.” Boxer claims Anheuser-Busch waters down Budweiser and other beers by 3 to 8 percent, noted CBS News. In addition to Budweiser and Michelob, other products identified in the suit include Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Lime, Michelob Ultra, King Cobra, Natural Ice, Busch Ice and Hurricane High Gravity Lager.

According to Boxer, this practice was common and was done in order to get more profit. The lawsuit states, “Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV was formed in November of 2008 following the merger of InBev and Anheuser-Busch. 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.”

Budweiser’s labeled Alcohol by Volume is 5 percent, while Bud Light’s alcohol content is labeled at 4.2 percent. Most beers hover around the 5 percent mark, while most “light” beers are around 4 percent.

I think it’s wrong for huge corporations to lie to theirloyal customers -- I really feel cheated," Nina Giampaoli, one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuits, said. "No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels.”

Anheuser-Busch is not obligated to keep their beers at certain alcohol content levels in order to be marketed or labeled as “light” unlike liquor.

When Makers Mark was thinking of potentially watering down its bourbon, in order to meet the growing demand, they legally could not dilute the bourbon to under 80 proof, 40 percent alcohol by volume. According to the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, the definition of bourbon/whiskey  is “a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whiskey, stored in oak containers (except that corn whiskey need not be so stored) and bottled at not less than 80° proof.”

Budweiser could have lower alcohol content and still be labeled a regular beer, according to Boxer: “There are no impediments -- economic, practical or legal -- to AB accurately labeling its products to reflect their true alcohol content. Nevertheless, AB uniformly misrepresents and overstates that content.”

Other beers, such as Yuengling Premium (4.4), Sam Adams Boston Lager (4.8), Dos Equis XX (4.8) and Corona Extra (4.6) have lower alcohol content than Budweiser and Michelob and are not labeled differently. 

Anheuser-Busch has denied the lawsuit’s claims and states it has not engaged in any deceptive practices involving watering down their product.

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