FAKE BREWS: America rocked by 'craft beer' scandal allegations

Retail mega-giant accused in lawsuit of being lying IPA-holes

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

Posted in Bootnotes, 17th February 2017 06:26 GMT

US big-box chain Walmart is being sued by an Ohio bloke who claims the retailer's line of "craft beers" is an egregious lie.

Matthew Adam, of Hamilton County, is championing a class-action lawsuit alleging Walmart's line of "Trouble Brewing" beers is an act of fraud and false advertising.

According to Adam's complaint [PDF], filed to the county court this month, the retail goliath is pulling off an elaborate ruse by describing the Trouble-branded Cat's Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Round Midnight Belgian White, and Red Flag Amber Ale, as "craft beers." In fact, the origin of the booze is anything but artisanal and other adjectives you're supposed to associate with "craft."

The beer is, we're told, mass produced. Still with us? It's OK, take another moment, the anger will subside. To be specific, the beer is brewed and bottled by a national brewery called Genesee.

Adam's big problem, aside from allegedly being lied to about brewery size, is that Walmart charges a premium (on average $2 extra) for its craft beer offerings above what it asks for brews from larger regional or national brewery chains.

"Defendant's Craft Beer has never been a "Craft Beer" nor has it been produced by a craft brewery," the complaint reads. "Rather, it is a wholesale fiction created by the defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the Craft Beer at a higher, inflated price."

In defining a "craft beer," Adam refers to the Brewers Association, which says that true craft suds have "annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of US annual sales)."

Thus, Adam and his lawyer argue, Walmart has been ripping off the American beer-drinking public by putting its macro-brewed Trouble Brewing lineup with local craft offerings rather than on the national shelf with the likes of Budweiser and Coors.

He seeks a jury trial to decide damages and attorney fees on behalf of himself and Walmart beer drinkers in Ohio for violation of state laws on false and misleading advertising.

Walmart says it has not yet been served with the complaint, but plans to defend itself should the case go to trial. "We hold our suppliers to high standards and are committed to providing our customers the quality products they expect," it said. ®

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

Amazon squares up to Walmart over boycott calls: Talk sh!t, get hit

'Tactics like this are bad for business and customers'

Walmart tells developers to stay away from AWS

Retail giant prefers partners not feed Amazon their cloud cash

Walmart buys Jet.com

Walmart workers invited to shuttle packages

Details scant on insurance, mileage costs, and depreciation

Walmart sues Visa for being too lax with protecting chip cards

The only thing lower than our prices is your security!

Walmart spied on workers' Tweets, blogs before protests

Defence contractor Lockheed Martin provided intelligence services before Black Friday

Speaking in Tech: Went to Cancun... visited the Walmart

Podcast All the best tech gossip here...

Walmart to open-source its cloud-hopping code

Retail giant offers skeleton key to escape cloud lock-in from … oh, no cloud in particular

If Amazon can have delivery drones, we want them too, says Walmart

FAA gets another license to delay until too late

Walmart takes its DevOps platform and piles it high on GitHub

Mega grocer throwing rotten tomatoes at Amazon?