Lawsuit claims Anheuser-Busch waters down beers

A lawsuit claims Anheiser-Busch beers have a lower alcohol content than what labeling indicates. (Source: CNN)
A lawsuit claims Anheiser-Busch beers have a lower alcohol content than what labeling indicates. (Source: CNN)

(CNN/KUSA/KTKA/KPLR) - Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, Michelob and many other beers, sells nearly half of the beer purchased in the U.S.

According to a newly filed series of lawsuits, it's ripping off customers.

"The lawsuits allege that Anheuser-Busch adds water to their beers - waters it down - and mislabels the stated alcohol content on the labels of the cans of beers of the beers they sell," said Robert Mills, who represents dozens of customers suing Anheuser-Busch for more than $5 million.

Their complaint says the real alcohol content in Budweiser, Michelob and other Anheuser-Busch beers is less than the 5-percent mark on the label, and that's a big money saver for the brewer

"By doing so, A-B is able to produce a significantly higher number of units of beer from the same starting batch of ingredients," Mills said.

The plaintiff's lawyers admit taste isn't the issue as far as they're concerned. They say many beer consumers place a premium on alcohol content, and simply think it's important to get an accurate reading from the label.

The attorneys could not provide physical proof of the alleged watering-down, but they say the process is systematic and sophisticated.

They say they found out about it from people who worked at Anheuser-Busch.

"The people that calibrate the instruments, the people who were in charge at these breweries of handling these issues, have told us this is what's happening," Mills said.

He said those people will testify, and says he'll get documents from the company.

Contacted by CNN, Anheuser-Busch rejected the allegations in a statement stating, "The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless. Our beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers."

Copyright 2013 KUSA/KTKA/KPLR via CNN. All rights reserved.