March 5, 2013
Somebody Has The Gall To Sue Anheuser-Busch For Making Terrible Beer
If the movie “Office Space” has taught us anything, it’s that siphoning off fractions of a penny, when performed thousands of times, can result in a windfall of profits. Sure, the corporate stooges depicted in Mike Judge’s 1999 comedy are just ripping off a plot line from an earlier Superman movie, but the point remains.
It’s this kind of caper which two California residents claim Anheuser-Busch is involved in, robbing the average beer drinker of fractions of percentages of alcohol by volume. When this is repeated millions and millions of times, the self-proclaimed “King of Beers” stands to pocket some hefty savings.
Last week, attorneys for Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert, the plaintiffs in this case, announced a class-action lawsuit against the brewing behemoth, saying Anheuser-Busch (AB) adds extra water to their beers to bring the alcohol content down to “well below” the advertised amount.
Yet, according to an independent test by CNN, the differences aren’t as significant as the Sonoma residents would want you to believe. The brewers argue that these slight differences are normal with a “natural brewing process” and aren’t grounds enough for a suit.
According to CNN, Anheuser-Busch’s flagship beer, Budweiser, is listed as having 5 percent alcohol by volume, or ABV. Yet, the CNN tests found that a can of Bud had a slightly lower 4.94 percent.
A bottle of Bud Light Lime claims 4.2 percent ABV, but tests reported 4.13 percent.
Finally, a can of Bud Ice, a beer marketed as a higher-content beer, registered a 5.35 percent ABV in CNN’s tests. The label boasts 5.5 percent.
“The sample test results you provided are well within the variability of the all-natural brewing process and all in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws, as we noted,” said Peter Kramer, AB’s vice president of brewing and supply, speaking with CNN.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Joshua Baker, told CNN that the real numbers they should be looking for come from inside the breweries themselves. Boxer claims AB takes multiple readings of ABV during the brewing process and even has some ears and eyes on the inside who claim the brewer uses some shady practices to “cheat” customers out of a fraction of a percent of alcohol.
“The most accurate data, as we discussed, is going to come from Anheuser-Busch because they do their testing six times per second,” Boxer said in a statement to CNN. “And they use different technology, in fact, from the laboratories you used.”
By skimming off these percentages, Boxer claims AB has saved “tens of millions” of dollars in the brewing process.
Though this suit lists several AB beers — such as Bud Light Platinum, Michelob and Michelob Ultra, Busch Ice and Natural Ice — it does not mention what the plaintiffs believe the actual ABV levels are. Instead, they only claim that these beers are watered drown and that AB is cheating its customers. “I think it’s wrong for huge corporations to lie to their loyal customers — I really feel cheated,” Giampaoli said in a statement. “No matter what the product is, people should be able to rely on the information companies put on their labels.”
AB has no problem addressing this suit and has even bought full-page ads in ten major US newspapers claiming the plaintiffs must’ve been drinking one of the many cans of water that AB donates to the Red Cross during times of disaster.
It’s clever marketing, if not a bit of a bully move to take…but let’s be honest here.
No one who knows from beer should be surprised that the ABV fluctuates a tiny bit. Furthermore, no one should really be surprised that an AB beer delivers much less than what was advertised, either in taste, quality, or ABV. It is this writer’s opinion that there are only two acceptable uses for an AB beer; cooking and when there’s absolutely no other option and you don’t want to be the only doofus at the party not enjoying an adult beverage.
It is this second scenario wherein most consumers will find it necessary to choke down a Bud Light with Lime. And Busch or Natural Ice? Just like a venereal disease, you’d best be in a fraternity if you’re going to be caught with one of these.
These beers are simply everywhere. AB has become a multi-million dollar monster and has all but completely taken over the beer industry. They package the same beer in as many differently shaped containers as possible to choke out any competition.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a gander at the Bud display. You’ll likely see an entire wall of Bud Light Blue and an entire wall of Budweiser Red. Each of these walls will have 6-pack bottles and cans, 12-pack cans, 16-pack cans, 8-ounce cans, 24-ounce bottles, and more; all these receptacles for the same terrible crap.
Lucky for our collective taste buds, there’s a new craft beer resurgence that gives consumers both a choice in beers and an opportunity to discover just how great beer can actually taste.
It’s these millions of dollars Giampaoli and Elbert are after. Their claims aren’t, in my opinion, grounds for a suit. Even if and when they pull out internal numbers from the breweries, it’s terribly likely these numbers will average off closer to AB’s claims.
They make truly terrible beer, and they’re probably not above fudging the numbers to make even more money, but I don’t see any way these claims will ever hold up in court. The plaintiffs are likely hoping AB will throw a few Ks at them to keep them quiet, but they definitely have the cash to fight this in court and win despite the losses, leaving the Giampaoli and Elbert without a spare penny.
Furthermore, I put it to you that the only way you’d notice a .07 percent discrepancy in ABV is if you had multiple beers, likely more than AB or any other brewery would ever suggest a person take. If, after drinking two Bud Light Limes, you claim you can feel the missing .14 percent, then perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking after all.
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