Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Don’t mess with my beer, bro

Consumers in three U.S. states are suing Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), the brewery responsible for our beloved Budweiser, for allegedly overstating the alcohol content in Budweiser, according to Bloomberg Tuesday.

Apparently, the brewery routinely adds extra water to its finished products. Bloomberg reported that lawyers are saying the company uses accurate alcohol-measuring technology to dilute its beers just before bottling. The beer is reportedly between 3 and 8 percent weaker than what it says on the label.

Josh Boxer, the lead lawyer in the case, says his claim is based on information obtained from former employees at the company’s 13 U.S. breweries, according to the Associated Press.

But Peter Kraemer, the company’s vice president of brewing and supply, has said that the allegations are completely false. So how did the accusers determine that there was, in fact, less alcohol? No one knows. Perhaps, as loyal customers, they’ve just built up tolerance.

But if the news is true, it’s upsetting. First, because we now have to drink more Budweiser to get a buzz (and binge drinking is bad), which means we have to buy more Budweiser, which means that Anheuser-Busch would make more money, at least in the short run. While Boxer has claimed that the brewery started diluting beers as a cost-saving measure, if anything, it’s going to hurt the label in the long run, because once we’ve realized we’re being cheated into buying more less effective beer, we’re going to stop buying it in favor of the better stuff out there, like Natty Light. (Just kidding. But the Associated Press did report that the company’s fourth quarter profits are down 4.9 percent.)

But what’s more bothersome for the individuals claiming damages is the false advertising. People should be able to rely on the information that food and drink companies put on their labels. We have less of a problem with lowered alcohol content than with the fact that ABI purportedly hasn’t been telling us this. Hopefully they don’t make dilution a trend, seeing as it owns 39 percent of the American beer market, according to Bloomberg.

Either way, the accusers are claiming damages of $5 million, which is a ridiculous sum to ask of a company whose products have usually afforded a person a pretty good time.

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