Class Action Settlement Means AB InBev Must Refund Customers For Faux-Import Beck’s

becktoberfestLast September, a Consumerist reader contacted us, upset about something that he noticed on a beer label. The label of Beck’s, a German beer brand owned by the conglomerate AB InBev, says “Brauerei Beck & Co.” and “Originated in Bremen, Germany” on the label. Nathan and other Beck’s fans will be compensated for this bit of label trickery soon-ish, since AB InBev has settled a class-action lawsuit.

Yes, this was a real lawsuit: consumers who thought that the Beck’s that they buy here was an import were upset, and sued.

As a global beverage company with a deep passion for cost-cutting, AB InBev simply produces their own “import” brands at their own breweries here in the U.S., leading to cases of Beck’s that are imported from Missouri.

A similar lawsuit against InBev about another faux-import, Japanese brand Kirin, was settled in 2014. InBev isn’t alone in brewing foreign brands in domestic breweries, either: competing mega-brewer MillerCoors brews Australian brand Foster’s in Texas.

Other, more obscure brands that MillerCoors owns, like Czech Pilsner Urquell, are true imports. Companies simply balance the cost savings against the number of customers who are likely to notice a difference in taste and stop buying the beer.

This lawsuit settlement probably throws off those calculations for InBev. Beck’s drinkers who happen to have held on to their receipts can receive 10 cents per bottle (or $1.75 for a 20-pack) up to a total of $50. Customers who don’t save all of their beer receipts can receive up to $12.

The company also agreed to modify Beck’s labels for the U.S.-brewed version in the future to make it more clear to consumers that the beer is not, in fact, brewed in Germany.

Trouble Brews for ‘Imported’ Beers Made in America [Wall Street Journal]

The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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