Beers skimping on buzz, lawsuit claims

Posted: February 28, 2013

Two Montgomery County brothers have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the maker of Budweiser, Michelob, and their many beer cousins has systematically exaggerated how much alcohol is actually in its brews.

Thomas and Gerald Greenberg, who say they have been pounding away more than a case of Budweiser a week between the two of them for the last four years, say they have figured out that Bud doesn't have an alcohol content of 5 percent as advertised.

Philadelphia lawyer David Senoff filed the suit Monday against Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V. in U.S. District Court.

"We know because Anheuser-Busch takes several readings in each line in each brewery 24 hours a day" and uses the data to water the beer down to or below the promised alcohol content, said Josh Boxer, a lawyer for the Mills Law Firm of San Rafael, Calif., which is coordinating multiple weak-beer suits.

"We've spoken with former employees who have confirmed" that beer often leaves the plants with a little less than 5 percent alcohol, saving "tens of millions of dollars a year by substituting high-quality ingredients with the cheapest ingredient, which is water," Boxer added.

The Greenbergs' lawsuit alleges that Anheuser-Busch "mislabels the alcohol content" in several of its brands, including Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob Ultra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice, and Bud Light Lime as well as Budweiser and Michelob.

The allegations are "completely false," Peter Kraemer, Anheuser-Busch's vice president of brewing and supply, told Bloomberg News.

"Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws," Kraemer said. "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."

Anheuser-Busch brands account for 47.7 percent of U.S. beer sales to retailers, according to its website.


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194, JoeD@phillynews.com or @PhillyJoeD on Twitter.

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