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Your Favorite “Imported” Beer Might Not Be Imported

This misleading label has pissed a lot of people off.
Photo via Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES.

In the era of the €242 billion booze conglomerate, beer companies can use the power of marketing that can slap sexy labels onto bottles and sell their swill to the masses.

Like other "premium" beers, Beck's is packaged in a green bottle and labelled with a "Brauerei Beck & Co., Bremen, Germany" sticker. Someone from the US looking at this label couldn't be blamed for assuming that the beer was brewed Bremen, Germany, especially considering that it costs as much as imported beers.


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The only problem is that, unlike Heineken and Stella, Beck's isn't actually imported, or brewed in Europe. Since early 2012, it's been made in a St. Louis, Missouri plant. The Beck's label only refers to where it was brewed before it was purchased for a cool 1.8 billion euros by beer conglomerate Interbrew, which eventually became Anheuser-Busch InBev.

This misleading label pissed a lot of people off, and there is even a Facebook group called "Import Beck's From Germany," with hundreds of members who have sworn off Germany's most iconic green bottle until it relocates to the Fatherland.

All of this was enough to convince Florida attorney Tucker Ronzetti that he had a case against one of the biggest corporations on earth.

In what sounds more like another Back To The Future sequel than a class action suit, the plaintiffs in Marty v. Anheuser-Busch are seeking to get refunded on the premium they paid for the non-premium product.

"The Lawsuit alleges that Defendant Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC ("A-B") misrepresented to consumers that Beck's Beer is brewed in and imported from Germany," the class actionstates. "Plaintiffs allege that these beers are in fact domestically brewed but priced as a premium imported beer. Plaintiffs maintain that Defendant's actions constitute violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act."

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If there is a settlement, it could mean up to €44 for every consumer (per household) with proof of a Beck's purchase and €10 for those without receipts. These numbers certainly sound like small beans for a company with a market cap of a quarter trillion dollars, but this lawsuit is a rare glimpse into how opaque the production of some of the world's biggest beer brands can really be.

Anheuser-Busch, for its part, denies any wrongdoing. "Defendant [Anheuser-Busch] denies Plaintiffs' claims and charges, denies that it has violated any laws, and believes that its labeling, packaging, and marketing of Beck's Beer have always been truthful and not deceptive."

You could be a patriot and go out and buy a Bud Light—the most American of beers—to protest Beck's America-shaming, but Anheuser-Busch InBev owns that too. And they are slowly buying up all of your favourite craft beers, too, so basically you should just drink whatever you want.