ST. LOUIS -- The maker of Budweiser is using newspaper ads to deflate a lawsuit that alleges its beer is watered down, reported the Associated Press. In full-page ads in 10 major U.S. newspapers, Anheuser-Busch InBev shows one of the 71 million cans of drinking water it has sent to the American Red Cross and other relief organizations responding to disasters.
"They must have tested one of these," the ad says.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in several states, accuses the brewer of cheating consumers out of the stated alcohol percentage by adding water just before bottling its beers. The water cuts the alcohol content by 3% to 8%, according to the lawsuit's lead lawyer, Josh Boxer. The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company's 13 U.S. breweries, some in high-level plant positions, he has said.
The suit involves 10 Anheuser-Busch products: Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.
Anheuser-Busch InBev said the claims are groundless. In the ads, the company calls its beer "the best beer we know how to brew. We take no shortcuts and make no exceptions. Ever."
"The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless," Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply at Anheuser-Busch. "Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws. 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 placed the ads to remind consumers that its beers "stand for quality, we never waver on quality, and the Anheuser-Busch logo guarantees that on all of our products," the company said. "Our employees proudly brew our beers to the highest standards, as we have for 150 years, and the recent lawsuit is groundless. We also take water seriously, from the pure brewing water we use to create our beers, to partnering with the American Red Cross with our longtime commitment to disaster relief."
Anheuser-Busch, based in St. Louis, Mo., merged with InBev in 2008 to form the world's largest alcohol producer, headquartered in Belgium. In 2011, the company produced 10 billion gallons of malt beverages, three billion of them in the United Statres, and reported $22 billion profit from that category, the lawsuit said.