Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Judge Rules Anheuser-Busch Isn't Watering Down Its Beer After All

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

We still love you. | Anheuser-Busch
  • We still love you. | Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch InBev just got back some of its street cred. Judge Donald Nugent ruled Monday that A-B isn't watering down its beer by dismissing the case against it. Several people in California, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania filed lawsuits last year claiming that A-B used water and carbon dioxide to lower the alcohol content and save money.

See also: Anheuser-Busch Accused of Watering Down Beer; Deceiving Customers

The complaint claimed that:

Plaintiffs allege that Anheuser-Busch possesses technology that allows it to precisely identify and control the alcohol content of its malt beverages to within "hundredths of one percent (0.01%) Plaintiffs further allege that, nonetheless, Anheuser-Busch routinely and intentionally adds extra water to its finished product to produce malt beverages that "consistently have significantly lower alcohol content than the percentages displayed on its labels." This practice allegedly results in consumers receiving "watered-down beer containing less alcohol than is stated on the labels of Anheuser-Busch's products."

Lead attorney Josh Boxer told us last February that he would show A-B intentionally sent out weak beers. ""Consumers shoud be able to rely on what A-B tells them," he said. "By watering down the beer, A-B is able to save tens of millions of dollars on ingredient costs -- that's all out of your pocket and my pocket."

Judge Nugent disagreed. The Federal Alcohol Administration requires alcohol content to be within 0.3 percent of the stated amount (for A-B products, it's generally 5 percent). Nugent writes that the law is very clear and unambiguous, and A-B is within the 0.3 percent range.

"Despite this seemingly straightforward match between the regulation and the agreed upon facts in this case, Plaintiffs present several arguments in an attempt to modify or, in their words, 'clarify' the plain and unambiguous language set forth in the regulation," he says in his ruling, throwing some major shade.

Nugent then says that if the citizens find the regulation unsatisfactory, it's up to the legislature to change it, not the courts. And besides, A-B is completely within its rights to increase or lower the alcohol content by 0.3 percent, intentionally or unintentionally.

"An intentional 0.3 percent misstatement of alcohol content by volume has no different effect on the nature or adequacy of information available to the consumer than does an unintentional misstatement of the same degree," he says. "Every principle of statutory construction requires this Court to apply the tolerance as written, without modification or limitation. Consequently, there is no legal basis upon which to allow this case to continue. As such, the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss must be granted."

We contacted A-B for comment and it sent us this official statement:

We are pleased with the judge's decision to dismiss these lawsuits, as our products are made to the highest brewing standards by our expert brewmasters and our labels accurately reflect that dedication. We strongly objected to these claims because the relationships we hold with our many customers will always be our top priority.

There you have it, folks. Keep on sippin' that Bud. You can read Nugent's entire ruling here:

Judge Nugent's Dismissal Ruling

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.

Follow Nancy Stiles on Twitter:


Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation