Yet another lawsuit about beverage labeling. This time it’s Blue Moon beer. The class action lawsuit (Parent v. MillerCoors LLC) was filed April 24, 2015 in state court, in San Diego. It alleges that MillerCoors is tricking consumers about whether Blue Moon is craft beer.
There are now literally dozens of class action lawsuits, filed all around the country in just the past couple of years, in state and federal courts, against many of the most popular beer and spirits products in the country. Wine is notably absent, so far.
The complaint alleges that MillerCoors:
- makes more than 2.4 billion gallons of beer a year — about 12 times what the prevailing Brewers Association definition, for a craft brewer, allows
- falsely portrays the product as “artfully crafted,” when in fact it’s a macrobrew
- hides the MillerCoors affiliation under various fake entities
- misleads consumers into paying up to 50% more, via omissions and misrepresentations
For good measure, the suit alleges:
Defendant’s business practices are immoral, unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous, and cause substantial injury to consumers, including Plaintiff and the other members of the Class. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unlawful business practices, Class members suffered injury in that they paid a premium price for a product that would not ordinarily command a premium price, or purchased a product they otherwise would not have purchased, absent Defendant’s misrepresentations and omissions.
Notice that the lawsuit does not really mention labeling, and instead focuses on “false and deceptive marketing.” Notice also that the labels at issue don’t mention “craft.” TTB has approved the Blue Moon labels something like 300 times since the 1995 brand launch. Here is one of the very few Blue Moon labels that actually mentions “craft” as in “artfully crafted.” It’s a bit strange that the slogan would be rampant in advertising but barely there on labels. Sometimes TTB’s beer reviewer is a bit on the strict side, but here the government has been fairly lax. In fact, in the early days, Coors described this U.S.-made beer as “Belgian” rather than “Belgian-Style.” The real Belgian beer companies put this to a stop with another lawsuit.
Plaintiff is remarkably astute about when he purchased Blue Moon, and the BA parameters, but had a weak spot in his discernment, even when his friends tried to give him a clue:
From 2011 until mid-2012, Plaintiff frequently purchased Blue Moon beer… . Relying on its advertising, its placement among other craft beers, and the premium price it commanded, Plaintiff, who is also a beer aficionado and home brewer, purchased Blue Moon believing it was a craft beer, as the term is commonly used by beer consumers and the Brewers Association. [Eventually] Plaintiff was informed by friends that Blue Moon is not a craft beer, but rather a mass produced beer made by MillerCoors. Plaintiff was initially skeptical, but eventually verified the facts through his own research. As a result, Plaintiff has not purchased Blue Moon since approximately July 2012.
No word yet about whether Plaintiff has switched to Shock Top.
The tide is rising: Tito’s, Templeton, Breckenridge, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Beck’s, Budweiser, Lime-A-Rita, Kirin, Skinnygirl, Tincup, Angel’s Envy, WhistlePig, and now Blue Moon. Google says Blue Moons come around every 2.7 years, but the suits are starting to pour in at a far faster rate.
Matthew Dashem says
Yes, if this plaintiff is suing MillerCoors because their subsidiary BlueMoon is falsely advertised or misrepresented, then I’m going to sue Anheiser-Busch because their subsidiary is Shock-Top and I have evidence that they’re more craft then BlueMoon.
Robert C. Lehrman says
Send me a copy of the complaint when you file it, mdashem.
Randall Heyden says
I am surprised it has taken this long for the truth to surface.
It has been well known that Blue moon is part of Coors. It is served in the tasting room at the Golden brewery.I am very pleased to see the actual story come out and hopefully the slight of hand by these large
conglomerates will stop.
LONG LIVE CRAFT BEER!!
This lawsuit and the premise behind it are beyond stupid.
I love craft beer. But it’s not like their segment of the brewing industry owns the term “craft”.
The truth of the matter is that with so many new brewers jumping on the bandwagon, more and more of them are selling products (at premium prices no less) that lack _any_ semblance of true craft, definitively proving that ‘smaller’ is not always ‘better’.
The only ones who will benefit from this blatantly frivolous lawsuit will be the attorneys involved.
Radioactive Man says
The Brewers Association defines “craft beer” (and re-defines it whenver it suits them). But what legal standing does that have? AFAIK, none. What exactly is the basis for this lawsuit again?
I’m a lawyer; I don’t think this is anywhere close to a frivolous suit and see a lot of non-lawyer craft beer fans dismissing it out right.
What I’d be more concerned about is an outcome favorable to the plaintiffs. Based on the complaint, the suit focuses around where the beer is made. The allegation is that since Coors doesn’t brew the beer at the Blue Moon Brewing Company, the label misrepresents the beer. Think about the effect a court finding against Coors here would have on contract brewers throughout the country.
Just some food for thought.
Does it really matter if blue moon is a craft beer or not? Suck is suck. I’ve paid $20 for a bomber of ” craft” beer that was outright garbage and didn’t even finish the bottle and on the other hand paid $8 for a bomber that I would gladly pay $20 for because it was outstanding. Marketing is legal deception. The whole idea of marketing is to get you to buy a product. I can safely say every good beer I drink is NEVER on television.
How long did these idiots drink this beer, obviously loving it, before they realized it was brewed by a giant. And does it matter who brewed it and how much it cost? If you think it’s worth the money you will buy it. I personally will not buy KBS because I don’t think it’s worth $10 a bottle. I will pay $5, maybe even $6 and that’s my choice. I’ve had it many times, have paid $10 a bottle and may pay it again if my want becomes a desire. It is arguably one of the best beers on the face of the planet. If morons want to pay a premium for garbage beer then my hat goes off to coors. budweiser could be free and I wouldn’t drink it!
If I brewed a beer and named it “crap” and it was as good as heady topper or lunch would I get sued for misleading and deceptive advertising!
Grow the f$&k up people- don’t buy crap beer- beer advocate ratings are almost never wrong! Consumer ratings are the best marketing for any product!
I did a thesis on this in Business School in 1996. Back then Samuel Adams was trying to pass themselves off as ‘craft beer.’
Shocktop is in St Louis. Any guess as to who brews that ‘craft beer?’
Wonder why they chose MillerCoors vs the largest, AB InBev.
Frivolous lawsuits are one reason why ‘craft beer and other products/services are so expensive. Someones got to cover the costs of Attorneys/court costs.
“oppressive” and “cause substantial injury”. Puh-lease.
Its OK for a large brewery to own a craft brewery. Blue Moon is crafted by a brewer. If this lawsuit goes forward, then I’m suing Sierra Nevada for being too popular. Then I’m going to sue all craft breweries for trying to make money.
Charles Bacon says
I can’t find any evidence whatsoever in this lawsuit that would support the plaintiff’s allegations. Not only that, but note that the suit incorrectly cites FDA as the labeling authority for beer. I’m a fan of “craft” beer but I just cannot see any value in this lawsuit, except for the lawyers, of course.
Look at the MilkerCoors website. Blue Moon is all over it. If you only want to drink a beer because its “craft” and don’t do the research that is your fault. If you like the beer and think it’s worth the price you pay then drink it, if not then don’t.
Sam America says
I agree I think Miller/Coors and Budweiser suck and make
horse piss crap and I haven’t had one since HIGH SCHOOL
before I knew better and started drinking Imports because
back then that’s all they had in stores. I hate that the
big 3 have the market on beer at every fricking festival
and concert and arena you go to you can’t get a decent
beer! and those horrible commercials that have nothing to
do with beer! and all the crap they put in their beer now
to hide the taste! They didn’t even make any craft beers
before their sales starting declining and their craft
beers are only crafty as people buy that horse piss crap!
They don’t taste any better than their original beers!
Samuel Adams at least taste good and their craft beers
are pretty good but why they stopped making their best
Imperial Ale was stupid and I no longer drink their beer.
I hope this guy wins just to stick it to these big beer
companies! And hope people stop drinking their crap!
david petelo says
i call BS on his beer afficiafficianado status. If he was such a beer afficianado he shouldve known. Additionally, the fact that his friends told him and he continued to buy it is on him. Add that to the fact that he was obviously buying the beer because he liked it means he felt he was getting his money’s worth. This frivolous lawsuit belongs in the trash with the beer and his afficianado stats!
James Jacob says
If people like it, they buy it, the business makes money. I like pilsners. This IS GOOD advertising for MC having fooled an aficionado in to believing it was a craft beer. The real tragedy is that all the ‘real’ craft beers that taste like crap get promoted as somehow being better(?).