Anheuser-Busch Accused of Watering Down Beer; Deceiving Customers

Categories: Beer

Anheuser Busch logo.jpg
Don't bother crying in your beer. Supposedly, A-B already does that.
A new class action lawsuit filed in courts around the country is accusing Anheuser-Busch of adding water to its beers in the final stages of bottling.

"Because water is cheaper than alcohol, AB adds extra water to its finished products to produce malt beverages that consistently have significantly lower alcohol than the percentage displayed on its labels," the complaint reads. "AB is able to produce a significantly higher number of units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients."

The suit names Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, Black Crown and Bud Ice Lime as the affected brews.

There have been three similar filings so far, one in New Jersey, one in Philadelphia and one in California. The California complaint was filed on behalf of two consumers, Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert, who claim they were Bud drinkers for years before discovering that their beer was watered down.

Lead attorney Josh Boxer tells Gut Check that they're basing the allegations on the word of several former Anheuser-Busch plant workers. He declined to identify them or say which breweries the informants worked in.

"During AB's 'finishing adjustment process,' the last process the malt beverage undergoes before it is bottled, AB waters down its products, 'shaving' the total alcohol content," the suit claims.

"This is a matter of corporate practice," adds Boxer.

Boxer says there should be another filing in Missouri by the end of the week.

Gut Check left a message with Anhesuer-Busch and has yet to hear back, though A-B InBev vice president of brewing Peter Kraemer already told Bloomberg that the allegations are "completely false" and that "our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws."

Boxer says that he intends to prove his case with A-B's own meticulous records, which he says will show the brewery knew the beers were weak and sent them out the door anyway. He hopes to obtain those files in discovery; for now the case relies on the word of the former employees.

"Consumers shoud be able to rely on what A-B tells them," says Boxer. "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."

Each of the suits is asking for more than $5 million in damages. Read the full complaint below:

AB Complaint as Filed by

Follow Jessica Lussenhop on Twitter at @Lussenpop. E-mail the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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22 comments
Jason Ledet
Jason Ledet

Schlafly is a far superior product. bud shouldn't even be considered a beer since it is made with a crap ton of rice.

Manuel Avila Jr
Manuel Avila Jr

All the beer that comes from here is crap wine'o beer...

Jacob Hamilton
Jacob Hamilton

Of course it is watering beer down.. how do you think Bud Light is made?

Tony Grimmig
Tony Grimmig

They may or may not be watering it sown, but I know they have messed with the formula some how. When you solely dink A-B basically your whole adult life, you can taste a change just as well as if you get a bad soda or eat bad food.

Darcy Inman
Darcy Inman

So? When they start watering down good beer ill get perturbed. New Belgium, shlaflys, etc.

West End Grill
West End Grill

You mean they're adding less beer to their water?

Bridget O'Leary
Bridget O'Leary

I'm no fan of AB products (to be fair I don't like beer in general) but can't they test the alcohol content of the beer and be done with it?

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

Ferguson is in my neck of the woods and I love their brews! Still haven't been to Square One! '

Jay Hemp
Jay Hemp

Their products were tolerable before the inbev takeover, they're just dreadful now. Any micro in St Louis (4 Hands, UCBC, Square One, Ferguson, etc.) totally destroys any AB/Inbev product.

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

^ Brian this is what I love about America. Everyone gets a chance to speak their voice. Regardless of their palate! You're missing out if you're not out there trying what their is to offer in the world of frosty cold ones my brother!

John L. Williams
John L. Williams

Beer is 90% water. But the percentage is water that is beer is much lower.

Emily Alexander
Emily Alexander

Why is this a surprise? AB products taste like swill. They always have, even before InBev took over.

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

Sorry but AB products have never tasted good. End of an era, folks. The way is being paved for a broad market of artisan beers, micro brews, etc. I'd drink Schlafly over AB ANY day of the week and twice on Sunday. :)

Joanna Franke Kleine
Joanna Franke Kleine

Makers Mark actually didn't. They were going to but there was an overwhelming response from the consumers so they reversed their decision.

Pat Isringhausen
Pat Isringhausen

It was a sad day when the Busch family sold it to InBev...:(

Bob Dre
Bob Dre

taste like it hahaha

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