Update: brewer settles “Beck’s not really made in Germany” suit

Anheuser-Busch has settled, for refunds alleged to be worth $20 million, a class action claiming that it didn’t make clear enough to consumers that Beck’s Beer, which originated in Germany, was now made in the U.S.A. “Next up, class action by those who thought fries were really French,” comments @WillauerProsky on Twitter. [Jacob Gershman, WSJ and more at WSJ Law Blog; earlier]


  • One suspects that the remark about french fries is just snark. No one actually attempts to create branding or labeling that would suggest otherwise.
    This in contrast to many brands of beer, which at one time was truly imported, but now is nothing more than a marketing shell of its former self. The import charade starts with the big multinational Brewers, and ends with the store or restaurant placing these “imports” under a label on the menu or shelf declaring them to be imports. Everyone in the distribution path has an incentive to maintain the lie.
    People pay more for imports precisely because they are imports, acknowledging the product has added expense to lug it all the to the U.S., as well as for whatever value being an import might convey to the actual quality, real or perceived.

    Perhaps even time for more products to get slapped in a similar manner.

  • Speaking as a self-described “beer snob”, I would volunteer that if you are paying extra for Beck’s because you thought it was an “import”, its time to broaden your beverage consumption horizons. At best, its an average German Pils-style beer. Even before Beck’s was sold to Interbrew last decade, and eventually became part of AB Inbev during the megamerger, it was widely available at moderate prices.

    One is tempted to ask if the public at large was paying extra for it for purposes of conspicuous consumption, or because they thought its flavor was actually worth a higher price than other domestics of the same style? Personally, I don’t care where a beer is from, if its taste isn’t worth the price, I don’t drink it. But then again, I’m a beer snob.

    Interesting 2012 article

  • Could these “victims” even tell US Becks from German in a blind taste test?

  • Perhaps even time for more products to get slapped in a similar manner.

    Sure. We can next turn our attention to BMW for making “German” cars in South Carolina.

    But then again, I’m a beer snob.

    Spaten Optimator for the win.

  • A Spaten Optimator with the right meal is an good choice. Their Oktoberfest is a decent example of that style as well. (the Paulaner Oktoberfest-Marzen, however, is better in my not at all humble opinion) Have you tried the Ayinger Dopple? When we could get it here in the states, my wife and I used to love Samiclaus, but the alcohol content and mouth feel are not what most expect in a beer…

    My favorite is still probably Tripel Grimbergen, but Delerium Tremens is a nice effort at a much better price point. (Just ignore the cheesy advertising in the name and logo). The Canadian upstarts making La Fin du Monde are onto something too. Another hundred years or so of practice and they should have something spectacular.

    • Agreed- Paulaner Oktoberfest is smoother than Spaten. But I can drink Optimator without a meal- chilled it goes down sooooooooo easily. Samiclaus is some great stuff, but for a hit like that I would rather Chimay Blue.

      There is a brewer in New York- I can’t remember the name to save my life- Allagash, I think? Doing some wonderful interpretations of the Belgian farmhouse style.I see the brand frequently at BevMo.

      Funny story: when I was in Amsterdam (’86) going through the hallway in my hotel, there was a coke machine. You saw Coke, you saw Fanta, there were a couple local brands of soda, and there was Heineken. Very strange to my 27 year old eyes. Even odder was the Spaten shield prominent on the side of a McDonald’s in Munich!

      • I prefer my ales at cellar temperature, and Chimay Blue is available in our local groceries. It was my wife’s favorite until she found Grimbergen (which was available in FL, but not in TX – the reverse is also true). When she returned to TX, she found the Blue wasn’t as good as she remembered, but we can’t get the Tripel Grim, so its usually La Fin or Delerium Tremens for us – better price points for equal (in our opinion) beers.

        Allagash makes some good brews, I agree. I think you are thinking of their Saison. Tried Brooklyn Local #2 yet?

        In a variant style, have you tried Jesterking’s Wytchmaker? (its a Farmhouse Rye IPA without the overwhelming bitterness which has marked most domestic IPAs of late – its bitter, but its more than that). Personally, I’m not a hop head, put I won’t turn a glass of Wytchmaker down, so long as a second glass is going to follow it…

        • It’s all a matter of taste. Pretty much anything I want that is better than Stella Artois (not really a high bar), I have to go to BevMo for. Fortunately, they always have a selection worthy of the time spent. I will say that the local Albertson’s tries to keep some different brews (not of the mega-brands) in stock.

          Yah, I think you’re right- it’ll be Allagash Saison I’m thinking of. There was another New York brewery that was quite good too- Ommegang, I think. I’m not even sure if San Diego brews beyond Stone, Karl Strauss and Ballast Point are available outside of our market.

          I’m not a fan of IPAs as we currently see them. It seems everybody is trying to get the bitterest beer on market. For me, that isn’t enjoyable. It’s gotten well far and away from what the style originally was. However, I’ll need to try your suggestion if I can find it. Brewed with rye rather than barley should make for an interesting flavor change.

  • The orthodox Libertarian position, of course, is that you should be carrying your own gas chromatograph everywhere you go so that you can verify the purity and composition of everything you might consume. If you don’t, well, I guess it’s YOUR problem if someone sells you Prime Aged Bordeaux that’s actually just rotten Kool-Aid.