Press Clips: Walmart Accused of Selling Faux Craft Beers; Heineken to Purchase Brasil Kirin Holdings

Walmart Faces Class-Action Lawsuit Over Private Label Craft Beer

A class-action lawsuit filed in Ohio claims Walmart used its private-label beer to deceive customers.

The lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas claims the four beers produced for Walmart — Cat’s Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Round Midnight Belgian White and Red Flag Amber, which are sold in 45 states — do not meet the Brewers Association’s definition of “craft beer.”

The beers are being made at Rochester, New York-based Genesee Brewing, owned by Costa Rica’s Florida Ice and Farm Company, but the labels lack any mention of Walmart or the private label brand developer “WX,” which is named in Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau filings.

The lawsuit asserts that Genesse Brewing “produces well over the prescribed amount that would be considered ‘small.’”

“Defendant’s Craft Beer has never been a ‘craft beer,’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery,” the lawsuit states. “Rather, it is a wholesale fiction created by the Defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the Craft Beer at higher, inflated price.”

The suit also alleges that by placing the private-label brands among other craft beers, Walmart “is further perpetuating the myth that it’s a Craft Beer.”

Walmart’s response: “We have not yet been served, but we take these claims seriously and will respond appropriately with the court.”


A federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit last year, brought by homebrewer Evan Parent against MillerCoors, that claimed its Blue Moon Belgian White offering did not fit the definition of “craft beer.”

In that suit, Parent claimed that MillerCoors had falsely advertised Blue Moon as craft beer and required retailers to place the product on the shelf among other craft beers. However, the judge determined that Parent was unsuccessful in demonstrating that MillerCoors had misled consumers through its advertising and positioning of Blue Moon as a craft beer.

Heineken to Buy Kirin Brasil


Heineken N.V. entered into an agreement with Japan’s Kirin Holdings Monday to acquire Brasil Kirin Holding S.A. for $1.09 billion, the company announced via a press release.

The transaction will give the world’s second-largest brewer a stronger presence in the fifth largest country, Brazil, and greater access to a beer market currently dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

According to Fortune, acquiring Brasil Kirin is a long-term play for the Dutch brewer as it looks to deepen its presence in a market with a fast growing premium category, despite the country entering a third year of recession.

Heineken already has five breweries in Brazil, which it acquired during the 2010 purchase of Fomento Económico Mexicano, S.A.B. de C.V (“FEMSA”).

The deal is pending approval from the country’s antitrust agency, but is expected to close in the first half of 2017.

Heineken also reported its 2016 earnings on Wednesday, noting 4.8 percent organic revenue growth as well as positive volume and revenue per hectolitre growth. Heineken brand volume in the premium beer segment also increased by 3.7 percent.

In a separate but related transaction, Kirin also purchased a 51 percent stake in Mandalay Brewery in Myanmar.


Crescent Crown Expanding

Arizona-headquartered Crescent Crown Distributing, one of the largest beer distributors in the country, is investing $1.6 million to expand its 200,000 sq. ft. facility in Surprise, Ariz.

The expansion calls for an 18,000 sq. ft. addition, adding cooler space and a fleet workshop, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

LGE Design Build vice president and principal Vince Dalke told the outlet that craft beer is responsible for the expansion.

Crescent Crown’s Suprise distribution center handles about 40 percent of the 20 million cases of beer the company sells annually throughout the Phoenix metro area. The project is expected to be completed in April.

RiverWalk Brewing Gets New Home in Newburyport


Newburyport, Massachusetts-based RiverWalk Brewing will relocate into a 20,000 sq. ft. space this summer, according to the Boston Business Journal.

The move will enable the brewery to increase production from 2,000 barrels of beer annually, to about 20,000 barrels, and include the addition of a 3,000 sq. ft. taproom. The company plans to add new beers to its portfolio and create 10 jobs.

The project is expected to cost about $1.5 million, with partial funding coming via a loan from MassDevelopment (a public-private economic development agency that works to stimulate economic growth across Massachusetts) in addition to a bank loan and private investor financing.

New Belgium Unveils Voodoo Ranger Mascot

New Belgium has introduced an animated brand ambassador for its Voodoo Ranger IPA. The six-pack toting skeleton character will be featured in a series of videos. Here’s the first:

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