To be craft beer is a great thing. So much so Big Beer is frantically trying to acquire craft breweries because they see the value in the variety and local connectivity they provide. For years, Blue Moon has been the most popular beer purchased in many states.
But we all know Blue Moon ISN’T craft beer!!!…..right? Apparently not. As reported by Quartz, a fella in, of all places, the beer mecca known as San Diego, has filed a lawsuit claiming he was misled into believing Blue Moon was craft beer. The Brewers Association lays out the following criteria for being a craft brewery.
Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
Blue Moon is produced by MillerCoors. MillerCoors produces about 76 million barrels a year. Needless to say Blue Moon is not craft beer. Even as appalling as this oversight is, the man is from San Diego. San Diego is, arguably, the beer mecca of, at the very least the entire West Coast. They are home to Stone Brewing, Ale Smith, Ballast Point, Green Flash, The Lost Abbey and about 50 other breweries. It’s kinda hard to miss what “craft beer” is when you’re surrounded by such brewing majesty. But, alas, the poor man was obviously confused enough and apparently might have a case.
But a class action suit filed last week says the company is engaging in false and deceptive advertising. It points to MillerCoors’ production of 2.4 billion gallons of beer per year, as well as the fact that the Blue Moon website doesn’t mention MillerCoors, even though theMillerCoors’ website plays up Blue Moon. Bottles and cans of Blue Moon leave out its corporate parentage. The suit also points to the MillerCoors trademarked term, “Artfully Crafted,” used on the website and in marketing materials.
By marketing its product this way, the suit says, MillerCoors is taking advantage of the premium that beer aficionados are willing to spend for real craft beer, without actually delivering it.
While the lawsuit is filed as a class action, and the complaint states that “the Class is comprised of ‘consumers’ and ‘members of the public,’” the plaintiff —a San Diego, California man named Evan Parent—is currently the only named member of the class. “I imagine as we go forward there may be a few people who come forward,” said his attorney James M. Treglio, who is also an old friend of Parent’s. As for the best possible outcome of the case, Treglio told Quartz, “ideally the marketing of Blue Moon would change and… at least some money would go back to the members of the class for their purchase.”
For its part, the Brewers Association says it doesn’t say what is and isn’t a craft beer—it only defines craft brewers.”Blue Moon would not be a craft brewer,” Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association told Quartz, “because it’s owned by MillerCoors.”
Unlike other lawsuits that have alleged that particular labels are misleading, this lawsuit is going after the whole marketing scheme, food and beverage attorney Lindsey A. Zahn tells Quartz. “This
Craft beer is experiencing it’s own turmoil right now, so this is just what comes along with that level of success.