Anheuser-Busch InBev ND (NYSE: BUD) is firing back at a class-action lawsuit that accuses the brewer of cheating consumers out of the stated alcohol percentage by adding water just before bottling its beers.
The Belgium-based brewery took out ads in 10 U.S. newspapers on Sunday, including The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, showing one of the 71 million cans of drinking water the brewer donates to American Red Cross and other relief organizations responding to disasters.
"They must have tested one of these," the top part of the ad says. “It would have been easy to get because we’ve done it 71 million times. That’s how many cans of pure drinking water we’ve donated to the American Red Cross and disaster relief organizations worldwide.
“But in every other circumstance, the Anheuser-Busch logo is our ironclad guarantee that the beer in your hand is the best beer we know how to brew. We take no shortcuts and make no exceptions. Ever,” the ad continues.
The lawsuit was filed last week by two brothers who say they’ve done enough research to know that the beer doesn’t contain the amount of alcohol it claims. The water cuts the alcohol content by 3 percent to 8 percent, according to the lawsuit's lead lawyer, Josh Boxer. The company denied the allegations at that time, saying the lawsuit had no merit.
“The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless. 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 at Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement.
While the recent Anheuser-Busch ads do not directly address the lawsuit, Boxer said in a statement that the ads amount to "classic non-denial denials." He said that the company will be asked to produce internal alcohol testing data in court that will prove his case.
"These alcohol readings, taken six times a second as the finished product is bottled, will confirm the allegations made by the growing number of former employees who keep coming forward to tell us the truth," he said.
The lawsuit 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.