Press Clips: Watered Down Beer & Controversial Beards

Water is imperative to the brewing process. That said, “watered down” is perhaps one of the most derisive indictments that can be levied against a brewery.

With that in mind, Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) must be feeling pretty good right about now.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, on Monday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit, filed by consumers from across the country, that alleged the beer giant had been watering down “several of its top brands, including Budweiser and Michelob” in an effort to cut costs.

At the crux of the charges, A-B InBev is alleged to have been using Anton Paar meters to measure the alcohol content in its beers before adding water and carbon dioxide to lower the alcohol content. Subsequently, according to the suit, the company marketed its beers as having higher alcohol content than they actually did.

When the story first broke last March, Mitch Steele, the current brewmaster for Stone Brewing Co. and who worked as a brewer for Anheuser-Busch from 1992-2006, explained to Brewbound that A-B InBev uses a “high-gravity brewing” process to achieve accurate ABV levels.

“It’s very normal for this to happen,” he said at the time. “There are two reasons for it. First, it allows you to get your ABV totally dialed in with the specifications that are set for the beer. Second, it gives you more capacity in the brewery.”

An earlier statement from A-B InBev’s vice president of brewing and supply, Peter Kraemer, claimed the accusations were “completely false.” To the chagrin of the collective plaintiff, Judge Donald Nugent of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio agreed wholeheartedly.

“There is no dispute that the Anheuser-Busch products at issue are malt beverages … and that the stated percentage of alcohol on the labels of these products is within 0.3 percent of the actual percentage of alcohol in the product,” he wrote in his ruling.

So it seems the self-proclaimed King of Beers will retain its self-proclaimed crown.

That wasn’t the only beer controversy to make waves this week. Charleston Southern University allegedly fired one of its most popular professors because the powers that be didn’t like the cut of his jib, as it appeared on a beer can from Holy City Brewing.

Here’s how it played out:

Paul Roof, the now unemployed professor in question, happens to boast a magnificently hirsute disposition. So magnificent, in fact, is his shapely beard and moustache, that it caught the attention of Holy City. The brewery, in need of artwork for its aptly named “Chucktown Follicle Brown,” approached Roof about decorating the beer cans with his image. Roof obliged and was fired as a result, according to a brief statement that he posted on his Facebook account,

“[Today] I was fired from my position as Associate Professor of Sociology because my image (which I do not own & received no compensation) based on a photograph by Greg Anderson Photography appears on a beer can,” he wrote.

The university, which was initially mum on the subject, issued a lengthy statement to Live 5 News. For the sake of brevity, here’s the important part:

“First, it should be clear that the matter involving Dr. Roof is, in no way, premised upon the actual consumption of alcohol. Second, the matter has nothing to do with the presence of facial hair.”

In less contentious news, Golden Road Brewery will now brew the house-brand beers for Trader Joe’s.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Golden Road “has stepped in to fill the gap left by Firestone Walker’s discontinued Mission St. line with a new house-brand made specifically for the specialty grocery stores called Ol’ Burro Brewery.”

The brewery will produce three beers for Trader Joe’s: Golde Brick Pale Ale, El Guero Blonde Ale and Tap 79 IPA. According to the Times, the beers will be packaged in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and will have a price of $5-7.

“We were fortunate enough to brew the first craft canned beer for Trader Joe’s,” Golden Road president Meg Gill told the website. “It has been a fun project and we are proud of the beer.”

Lastly, we’ll leave you with a hypothetical question: would you pay $1,000 right now for unlimited beer at your favorite watering hole for the rest of your life?

That question was more than hypothetical in Minneapolis, as Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub began offering people a lifetime of free beer for an up front investment of $1,000.

It started two years ago when the brewpub’s owners needed to raise $220,000 to open, but couldn’t lure investors due to their lack of industry experience. So, as a way to raise the money needed to open the doors to their dream brewpub, they decided to offer friends and family a lifetime supply of beer as the reward for a $1,000 vote of confidence in the startup.

According to The Atlantic City Lab, “People could also receive 0.1 percent non-voting equity in the company for every $1,000 invested. Or for $5,000, investors get 0.5 percent equity and free in-house beer for life.”

It adds that the brewpub, now a registered LLC, achieved its fundraising goals with the help of 118 people.

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