Does island-style beer taste as good when it’s actually brewed on the mainland? Two California drinkers are suing the maker of Kona Brewing Co. beers, Reuters reports, saying they were falsely led to believe the product is produced in Hawaii.
The plaintiffs certainly aren’t alone in thinking the beer comes from Hawaii: The labels feature hula dancers, surfers, and other beachy themes, and have names like Wailua Wheat and Longboard Island Lager. But in fact, as the suit filed earlier this week in a San Jose court lays out, Kona Brewing parent company Craft Brew Alliance Inc. produces most of the beer in the continental U.S. — in the decidedly non-tropical regions of Oregon, Washington state, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.
To add to the confusion, Kona Brewing does in fact have a brewing facility and pub located in Hawaii, but it only produces around 12,000 barrels of beer a year; any Kona beer sold in the upper 48 is produced here in the U.S., and has been for several years. That fact is disclosed right on the beer label and also on the company’s website, but the plaintiffs say the beer’s branding is deceptive.
The lawsuit is seeking class-action status, and if it’s victorious, could result in refunds for anyone who’s purchased Kona beer nationwide over the past four years. (Craft Brew Alliance does not comment on pending litigation.)
The Kona suit is just the latest in a string of many similar beer lawsuits: AB-InBev agreed to pony up $20 million after it was sued by consumers who say they thought Beck’s beer was brewed in Germany (it’s been produced in St. Louis since 2012). AB-InBev has also faced a lawsuit over Leffe beer (because it’s not really made by monks), while MillerCoors was sued last year because Coors Light isn’t actually produced in the Rockies but rather at manufacturing facilities all over the U.S.
• Kona Beer Is Not From Hawaii, Consumers Say in Lawsuit [Reuters]
• If You Thought Beck’s Was Brewed in Germany, You’re Entitled to a Refund [E]
• Anheuser-Busch Sued Because Leffe Beer Isn’t Really Made by Monks [E]
• More Beer Coverage [E]