Is Budweiser watering down its beer?
Will Ferrell's character Jackie Moon once hailed Bud Light as a "magical blend of barley, hops, and delicious alcohol," but it turns out the King of Beers may have been holding back on the deliciousness. Two erstwhile Budweiser fans, Thomas and Gerald Greenberg of Philadelphia, have sued the company for allegedly watering down its brews in a bid to rip off consumers. According to the suit, customers of AB InBev, Budweiser's parent company, "are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell."
Lest anyone charge the Brothers Greenberg with not knowing of what they speak, it should be noted that they are pretty familiar with Budweiser. According to Sam Wood at The Philadelphia Inquirer:
They've been doing serious research to buttress their claim. According to the suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, Thomas has been drinking two cases a month of the bland lager. That's nothing compared to brother Gerald; the suit says he's been drinking four cases a month. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
What's more, the Greenbergs claim they would not have drank so much Budweiser if it had not boasted an alcohol content of 5 percent. "Plaintiffs took [Anheuser-Busch's] stated percentage of alcohol into account in making their purchases and would not have purchased AB's malt beverages had they known that AB's representations were false," the suit claims. The Greenbergs also feel they deserve $5 million in damages.
How did the alleged scheme work? According to Sophia Pearson at Bloomberg:
AB InBev allegedly keeps the alcohol level for each batch of malt beverage at specifications above the desired final product at least initially then adds water and CO2 to the final stage of the brewing process, according to the complaint.
The company began using in-line alcohol measuring instruments known as Anton Paar meters that can measure the alcohol content in malt beverages to within hundredths of one percent, according to the complaint. AB allegedly uses the precision technology to shave the alcohol content instead of providing consumers with a product based on the stated label, the Greenbergs said in the complaint. [Bloomberg]
Budweiser has dismissed the charges, saying, "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."
In addition to Budweiser, the Greenbergs say the following AB InBev products are also watered down: Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Black Crown, Bud Light Lime, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, Natural Ice, and Michelob Ultra.
So it appears that the integrity of Bud Light, Jackie Moon's favorite, remains unsullied. Instead of advertising its alcohol content, which has always been somewhat negligible, perhaps Budweiser should stick with his unassailable tagline: "Refreshes the palate — and the loins."