A lawsuit filed against Blue Moon Brewing Co. claims that Blue Moon, the maker of the orange-garnished ale, is trying very hard to make itself a microbrewing, artisan craft beer, but that it’s nothing more than a thespian in the giant beer brewer world, masquerading as an independent craft beer. Blue Moon is a subsidiary of Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of Chicago-based MillerCoors, the joint venture company that sells all Miller, Coors and Molson Canadian beers in the U.S.
Writes Gawker on May 1: “A San Diego beer drinker is suing massive alcohol conglomerate MillerCoors, the second macro-est macrobrewer in the world (behind Anheuser-Busch Inbev), for false advertising because he’s been buying Blue Moon all these years, believing it was a ‘craft beer.’ Did he actually drink any of it? Because that probably would have cleared things up pretty quick.”
Blue Moon’s website says nothing of its parent company, but does hit pretty hard on the craft beer angle. “Head brewmaster and founder” Keith Villa earned “his Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels in Belgium, an honor only a handful of brewers have achieved, Keith came back stateside with the idea of crafting beers inspired by Belgian styles, but with a twist… When he’s not standing over a kettle, you can find him restoring classic American cars and bikes in his garage.”
Basically, the suds maker doesn’t want anyone to know its hiding behind its corporate parentage.
This isn’t the first time Blue Moon has been accused of being more “crafty” than craft. In 2012, the Brewer’s Association denounced Blue Moon’s artisan claim, writing that “when someone is drinking a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, they often believe that it’s from a craft brewer, since there is no clear indication that it’s made by SABMiller… The large, multinational brewers appear to be deliberately attempting to blur the lines between their crafty, craft-like beers and true craft beers from today’s small and independent brewers. We call for transparency in brand ownership and for information to be clearly presented in a way that allows beer drinkers to make an informed choice about who brewed the beer they are drinking.”
By definition, the Brewer’s Association says a craft brewer is “defined as small and independent. Their annual production is 6 million barrels of beer or less and no more than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”
According to the Blue Moon lawsuit, the company produces 76 million barrels annually across its breweries in eight states.
The fellow behind the class-action suit is Evan Parent, who claims that for years he’s been drinking the mass-produced wheat ale believing it to be a craft brew. Parent’s lawsuit, read here in its entirety, says the “plaintiff frequently purchased Blue Moon beer from San Diego-area retailers,” and that “relying on its advertising, its placement among other craft beers, and the premium price it commanded, Plaintiff believed that Blue Moon was a microbrew or craft beer.”
Despite brewing Blue Moon for the past 20 years, Defendant goes to great lengths to disassociate Blue Moon beer from the MillerCoors name. MillerCoors does not appear anywhere on the Blue Moon bottle. Moreover, while Blue Moon is prominently displayed on the MillerCoors web site, there is not a single reference to MillerCoors on the Blue Moon Brewing Company web site. – Lawsuit filed against MIllerCoors.
The lawsuit only asks that the Plaintiff (and everyone else who has a beef with Blue Moon) gets their money back – and that Blue Moon come clean about its false advertising and knock off the premium price tag associated with microbreweries, which it is not.
MillerCoors isn’t hiding on this one. The company issued a statement in response to the suit: “MillerCoors is tremendously proud of Blue Moon and has always embraced our ownership and support of this wonderful brand. The class action filed against MillerCoors in California is without merit and contradicted by Blue Moon Brewing Company’s 20-year history of brewing creative beers of the highest quality.”
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