Beer drinkers, in several lawsuits filed across the U.S., are accusing Anheuser-Busch InBev of watering down its top brands, but the global brewing giant says the claims are all wet.
Lawyers representing consumers in California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey filed the lawsuits in the past week, alleging that the brewer's St. Louis-based U.S. unit, Anheuser-Busch, dilutes some of its most popular beers and lists a higher alcohol content than the beers actually contain.
In one of the lawsuits, filed Friday in San Francisco, Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert of Sonoma County, Calif., claim they regularly purchased Budweisers that were labeled 5 percent alcohol by volume.
The lawsuit alleges Giampaoli and Elbert recently learned that the 5 percent alcohol by volume claim on Budweiser labels was overstated. The suit didn't say how they learned of the alleged misrepresentation.
According to the lawsuit, AB uses Anton Paar meters to gauge the alcohol content in Budweiser and several other beers, then adds water and carbon dioxide in a final step that waters down the alcohol content by between 3 and 8 percent in a cost-saving move. Budweiser ranks third in beer sales in the U.S.
The suit, which seeks a class action status, alleges AB dilutes other beers, including Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Black Crown and Bud Light Lime.
"There are no impediments -- economic, practical or legal -- to (AB) accurately labeling its products to reflect their true alcohol content," the lawsuit claims. "Nevertheless, (AB) uniformly misrepresents and overstates that content."
The lawsuits claim the alleged mislabeling violates the laws of several states.
Anheuser-Busch denies adulterating its beers.
"The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless," said a statement from Peter Kraemer, AB's vice president of brewing and supply.