Another day, another beer drinker upset that his mass-produced beer isn’t as fancy as he thought it was. According to Reuters, optometrist Henry Vasquez says the packaging for Leffe beer—one of the Belgian imports in Anheuser-Busch InBev’s vast catalogue—is deceptive and thus has caused him to “overpay” for the beverage.
While beer nerds balk at the notion that Leffe is as artisanal as true Trappist ales like Orval, Vasquez might have a point. He claims that he was tricked into believing that the Leffe line was brewed in a Belgian abbey, not “mass produced in an automated factory that also makes Stella Artois.” Vasquez argues that Anheuser misleads customers by putting an abbey bell tower bottles and saying that Leffe is a premium beer “brewed and perfected by Belgian monks.” The brewery has not been at an abbey since 1794, when the Abbaye de Leffe was destroyed in the French Revolution.
Goes hand in hand with AB-InBev’s other advert, “This is not a hobby.” Right, it’s industrial. https://t.co/5jGRXhr95O
— Mike Carroll (@cmcarrolljr) April 5, 2016
The lawsuit, which seeks to be a class-action case, is asking for punitive and compensatory damages, plus a declaration by the beer company that “Leffe is not made in an abbey or by monks.” The lawyer on the case, Natalie Rico, notes: “Their marketing quite clearly shows Leffe to be a specialty craft beer. Consumers believe they are buying something that is limited quantity and very high quality. That is not the case.” Instead, the beer is produced in a plant in Belgium that can brew up to 238 million gallons each year.
Vasquez is the most recent frustrated beer drinker to sue a major producer over misleading marketing. Last year, a class-action lawsuit was filed in Miami against Beck’s. Many consumers believed that the beer was brewed in Germany, although it has actually been made in the good ol’ USA since 2012. Just months before that, a man sued Blue Moon for falsely advertising itself as a craft beer, even though its owned by mega-beer corporation MillerCoors. Eventually, a judge ruled that Blue Moon can still be considered as craft beer due to lack of regulations around the definition of craft.