Class Action Lawsuits Over a Brand’s Origins Continue, This Time in “Craft”

Dear Client:

These class action lawyers are crafty. After slapping Kirin, Beck’s, Red Stripe, Foster’s and Guinness with suits over the past few years, one would’ve thought the complaints surrounding origins were coming to a close – and they may be as far as “imported” claims. But the lawyers found a new fishing hole yesterday, American brewers that have multiple production facilities.

Yesterday, a class action lawsuit was filed against Kona brewer Craft Brew Alliance claiming the company made misrepresentations over Kona’s origins, reports STL Today. Another day, another dollar.

The suit, filed by a pair of California shoppers at a federal court in San Jose, alleges CBA dupes consumers into believing the beer comes from Hawaii, causing them to pay a premium price. These consumers were shocked, shocked to find that Kona is not only brewed in Hawaii.

We note that Kona is brewed in Hawaii, but it is also brewed in other places like “New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington,” per report.

The plaintiffs said the Hawaiian imagery found on Kona’s labels as well as the names of Kona’s beers are all “false and deceptive advertising.

“Consumers purchase items, and are willing to pay more for items, because they are from Hawaii,” the complaint said. “Craft Brew is well aware of this.”

The suit seeks “unspecified damages for Kona purchasers in that state [California] and nationwide over four years,” per report.

Might we remind you that these types of suits often end in a settlement. That’s because brewers typically don’t want to spend the time and money in court to fight it. The lawyers know this, and begin to wheel and deal saying something to the effect of ‘You can spend millions litigating this case or you can give us millions to make it go away.’

Most take that deal, but sometimes the brewers play along. Diageo recently held their ground and the suit against Red Stripe was dismissed. We’ll see how this one shakes out. Stay tuned.


HOP VALLEY HITS THE SOUTHWEST. Following “successful” launches into Washington, Idaho and California, Oregon’s Hop Valley has announced plans to expand their footprint into the Southwest. Starting today, Hop Valley beer is now available in kegs, bottles, and cans in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The brewer, which was recently acquired by MillerCoors, will roll with the blue network in the new territories, naturally. In Vegas, they’ll team up with Bonanza Beverage. And in Arizona, Hop Valley will roll with Crescent Crown Distributing and Finley Distributing. The brewer will initially offer their core brands, along with a changing selection of seasonal beers.

SAINT ARCHER EXPANDS REACH TO PAC NW. “Expanding to the Northwest has been a long time coming for Saint Archer,” reads a recent release from Saint Archer. Indeed, Tenth & Blake chief, Scott Whitley, told distributors during NBWA last year that they planned to bring the San Diego-based brews to Oregon and Washington in the fall of 2016. Now, they’ve made good on that promise. “As of February 29th,” [we assume that’s today] Saint Archer’s core and specialty beers will be available in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. No word on wholesaler partners, but it’s fair to presume they’ll roll with the big MillerCoors houses.

SWEETWATER COMIN’ TO DELAWARE. Yesterday, we teased a SweetWater rollout in Delaware. Today we have more details. SweetWater Brewing Company will hit the Diamond State next month with N.K.S. Distributors. The two will partner up to bring SweetWater’s year-round beers like 420, IPA, Goin’ Coastal, as well as seasonals and limited releases to the state’s package stores, bars and restaurants.

Until tomorrow, Jenn, Jordan and Harry

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Samuel Johnson

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