A judge ruled that every beer on the market is now legally a craft beer.
A California man named Evan Parent filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors for falsely advertising Blue Moon as a craft brewed beverage. (For the record, Blue Moon is definitely NOT a craft beer – MillerCoors cranks out over 70 million barrels a year). But Parent’s plan to call out the big wigs on their bullshit backfired completely. He lost the suit, and now every beer factory in the nation could legally slap a “craft” sticker on every case as early as tomorrow.
Parent argued that the baseline for determining whether a brew is craft or not should refer to the standards set by the Brewers Association. These are the organization’s criteria, from The Daily Beast:
(a) “Produce[s] less than 6 million barrels of beer annually; (b) [is] less than 25 percent owned or controlled by a non-craft brewer; and (c) Make[s] beer using only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.”
Seems fair to me.
But to Judge Gonzalo Curiel, these criteria aren’t clear enough.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel wants a better template for what does and does not constitute a craft beer before he says Blue Moon—or Bud Light Lime, for that matter—can’t allude to itself as being craft brewed in advertising.
Curiel also shot down Parent’s argument that MillerCoors was misleading customers by marking up the price of Blue Moon and putting it on the shelves next to far superior brews.
The lawsuit, filed in California by lead plaintiff Evan Parent, alleged that Blue Moon was conspicuously over-priced in comparison with the rest of the MillerCoors portfolio, that it does not meet requirements agreed upon by the Brewers association, and that it misleads customers by disguising the ownership.
Judge Curiel denied that last claim, referring to the company’s website where it is clearly labeled. He also rejected a claim that Blue Moon’s grocery store shelf placement (mixed in with all the craft brews) has misleading intent.
I agree with the judge here. Misleading customers isn’t illegal – it’s just good marketing.
But my main issue with the ruling is this…
Right now, you can still tell the difference between craft and faux craft pretty easily. But with every beer factory in the nation now fully aware that they can pass a bottle of cat piss as a craft beer, it’s only a matter of time before the two become indistinguishable. All a company has to do is pour their mass-produced, cheap-ass beer into a bottle with an edgy name and a custom logo created by a street artist, slap the “craft” label on it, and we’ll be none the wiser. I’m not much of a beer snob – I’ll take anything I can afford with the bills in my pocket or whatever is handed to me – but it would be nice if I could go to the store and pick out the legitimate craft beers without the need to visit a brewery.
But there is still hope. While the initial claim was rejected, the judge says Parent and other plaintiffs can rehash their argument and try again later.
Whether Parent eventually takes down the beer goliaths or not, there is still a silver lining. The next time a girl points to the throne of Keystone cases in your living room and says your fraternity drinks shitty beer, you can correct her and say “Actually, we only drink craft in this house.”.
[via The Daily Beast]
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