Watered-down booze bamboozles drinkers

Beer drinkers filed a $5m lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch, accusing it of watering down Budweiser. Meanwhile, Makers Mark abandoned back plans to water down its signature tipple.


    1. If you are drinking Bud, you are earning your ethanol. I’d be pissed if there were less than the packaging indicated…

  1. I love it. The entire basis for the lawsuit is hearsay from former employees.

    So somehow Anheuser-Busch is supposedly able to ship out literally BILLIONS of beers and magically manage to get them all past countless instances of government inspections and quality control in nations all around the world, AND with all these beers floating around, no one has thought to test them independantly to prove an inaccurate labeling of alcohol content.

    No, clearly it’s a massive conspiracy coverup! Thank goodness Joe Schmoe, the guy who used to run the fourth hops sorting machine on the left at [Brewery Name Here], blew the whistle on this when he got laid off shortly after the corporate merger!

    1. It would be a pretty easy thing to test, too.  Alcohol content of a distillate is simple to measure.  You could just dump together a few cases of Bud, measure their volume precisely, distill until the distillate has next to no alcohol content, measure the volume and alcohol content of the collected distallate, and do some simple arithmetic.

    1. No, we don’t dare utter the words Budweiser and beer in the same sentence, unless it’s to say something like “Budweiser is not beer,” or “Budweiser is the piss that an actual beer takes.”  Budweiser is just plain awful.  The fact that it’s watered down should not be a surprise to ANYONE.

    1. Not a fan of Jack Daniel’s*, then? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. When I was in the UK at the pub I most often frequented I was known as the Jack Daniel’s drinker first and the American second.

      *I do realize Jack Daniel’s is technically not bourbon, but I know many people put it in that category for the sake of simplicity.

      1. People are actually already boycotting Jack Daniels for exactly the same reason – they “dropped the proof without dropping the price”.  From 90 proof to 86 proof then to 80 proof, prices stayed the same.  I haven’t paid for JD in almost 10 years because of that (I have had the occasional taste, from a friend’s flask, just haven’t bought any or asked for it by name at a bar).




  2. Why do I have the feeling that Anheuser-Busch InBev’s lawyers should just send the plaintiff a link to Snopes?

    I had read a few years ago, though, that at least one of the industrial brewers brewed their product with a much higher original gravity (and hence alcohol content) than needed at a central facility, then diluted it with water to reach the desired product specifications at regional canning or bottling plants. I may have misremembered or misinterpreted this, but I wonder if the plaintiffs haven’t done the same thing.

    I find it very unlikely, though, that they’re watering down their product to levels below the values states on the labels. Hard for me to say, since I haven’t had a Bud in at least ten years and haven’t been able to drink any beer in the last year (because of the gluten).

    1.  It is an actual process called “High Gravity” brewing, where something is brewed at 8% and then split with water before bottling. This saves money in reducing the amount of fermenters (or increases money by doubling the amount of available fermenters) I have a feeling that this is the case, and thus the heresay from ex brewers. Although it obviously is a compromise of sorts.

      1.  One of the New Zealand brewing duopoly (DB) uses a version of this process as a continuous production stream. Water, malt extract and sugar go in the feed hopper; an 8%-alcohol malt product comes out the tap.
        The advantage goes further than “reducing the amount of fermenters”. By diluting the end product down to different degrees, and adding different amounts of hop extract and caramel, they can bottle their entire product range from a single fermentation stream.

    1. The labeling laws vary by state. Generally part 7.71 of Federal Regs state that……..
      “Any malt beverage which is labeled as containing 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume may not contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, regardless of any tolerance.”

      You need a roomful of lawyers to decipher the regulations. Good luck with that.


    2. Goes in one color, comes out the same color.

      You could probably stack a bunch of Budweiser drinkers in formation and get one of those Champagne fountains going.

  3. Reading Travels With Barley by Ken Wells I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that there are home brewers who illicitly acquired some of Anheuser-Busch’s proprietary yeast so they could brew their own Budweiser at home.

    What was shocking to me is I can’t understand why someone who’s going to all the trouble to make their own beer at home isn’t focused on making something worth drinking. 

    1. An American light lager is actually a difficult thing to brew. Getting it repeatable is also difficult, and if you’ve never had Budweiser that’s fresh, and not at the end of the industrial cloaca that is most beer distributors, you’d not understand how good it can be.

      It’ll never be a top-notch beer, but if all you’re used to is swilling it from cans, you’ve had a limited experience of what they turn out. I don’t care for lagers overmuch myself, but respect the amount of work it takes to do it properly.

      1. I should have added that, in the book, the home-brewed Budweiser is described as having a distinct green-apple tartness that, although I’m not generally a fan of lagers, did sound pretty good, especially on a hot day. And I certainly appreciate brewers taking it on as a challenge.

        1. “in the book, the home-brewed Budweiser is described as having a distinct green-apple tartness”

          Likely because they used a temperature too high for that yeast.

      2. According to a documentary I watched, Budweiser isn’t really an American light lager.  The grain is fermented for a short period of time (along some flavor/time response curve), and then that’s mixed with water and grain alcohol to produce the beverage.   Those who do brew a real lager are going to more effort.

      3. As a fan of lagers/pilseners I would say that there are numerous fantastic, and robust ones available, and I can’t imagine them being compared to Bud no matter how fresh it is. For a lager/pis fan it’s often tough at the store though, considering that people are obsessed with hoppy ales.

        I guess “American light lager” is kind of a narrow sub-style. I would introduce a Bud drinker to a number of great “Pils” and lagers. Hell you could introduce them to any number of macros that are better than Bud, which is pretty much most of them..

    1.  That has to be the single most ignorant statement I’ve seen on the internet today. And that’s saying a lot.

        1. I was impressed when I heard it in 3rd grade.  Unfortunately, the source is apparently from Foster’s-land, so a bit of a glass house.

      1. This is the most hyperbolic statement I’ve seen on the internet today, but only because i just started browsing

        1. Yeah.  I didn’t want to insult the poor fool too much.  His statement could easily be extended to imply that Australians actually drink Fosters.  As if.

          [edit] Since others are putting in plugs for some of their favorties, I’m just gonna give a nice shout out to Wolverine State, New Glarus, Bell’s and Right Brain.

          1. Sorry, I don’t think you can get the other two in Chicago yet.  Come to Summer Beer Fest, all of Michigan’s best Brewer’s Guild breweries will be there.  

        2. In my 30+ years of being European I haven´t met a single person that does, unless of course you´re talking about the Czech kind.

          1.  Strictly anecdotal but I’ve seen a number of Europeans come into the bar and order Bud. I think it’s kind of a touristy “Americana” thing though, like you’re supposed to get the most “American” beer while you’re here, even if it’s in reality one of the very worst American beers there is.

            Budweiser has been losing sales in the U.S. for over two decades while steadily gaining sales abroad. I think it’s less Europe sales than it is China, Russia etc. though…

          2. Yeah, I can see how some tourists in the U.S. could order a Bud in a bar for the supposed American-ness of itl. In Europe, at least around the people I know, it´s widely recognized as vile piss.

            Anyway, I´ve had great beers in both the U.S. and Canada. I actually wish fewer brewers in my home country of Austria would adhere to the German Reinheitsgebot and instead start experimenting more, like they do in North America.

          3. the europeans i knew consistently bought it because it was cheapest, and then complained about it.

            in retrospect i should have explained to them that if they wanted to pay an amount in US$ equivalent in purchasing power to what a normal european beer costs, they could have gotten any number of decent or even superlative beers.

            some people just can’t handle choice. they’d have probably complained anyway.

    2. “American” beer? Huh.  I just had Moose Drool last night. Quite American. It was delicious and certainly not “water”.

      I’ve also been to the Stone Brewery — makers of Arrogant Bastard.

      Quite American. And wonderful.

    3. America has the greatest selection of beers available in the world. Budweiser and other macros are not among them though.

      1. Seeing the comment above about Makers being the best people can get in other regions brought me back to reality. I live in Louisville, KY and have the greatest selection of bourbons in the world available to me so my perspective is a bit skewed.

        1. Good point. It’s a horrifying thought. I will say that I’ve been in a number of divey/sporty bars where the top tier for their bourbon and whiskey was just Makers and Jamesons, and you can forget any good scotch. I suppose in these situations I’ve at least felt comfortable in knowing what I was getting with a Makers.

          1. Maker’s was the premium whiskey when I was an undergraduate. This is the only acceptable time for it to be so.

  4. Budweiser is crap because it’s rice beer (I grew up in rice country, and they were one of the major buyers).  Most Chinese and Japanese beers, ironically, conform to the German Purity Law of 1516.

  5. I thought the standard was to brew it stronger, say 8% then water down to the desired percentage. This way they don’t have to trouble themselves to brew Bud and Bud light seperately just add more water to one at the bottling stage. 

  6. heard this on the news this morning. they actually said “bamboozled!” I was bartending at 7am when i heard it, and asked all my drunks at the bar to say “i been bamboozled!”. they’re Busch drinkers, which is made by Bud. good times. 

  7. I don’t understand, Bud drinkers.  If you suspect that Budweiser is watered down, why don’t you just do what the rest of the world does, and drink other, better beers instead?  There are plenty of superior brews out there, you just probably won’t find them in wide-mouth cans at your nearest convenience store.

    1. Actually, the truly insulting thing about Bud is that it tries to market (and price) itself as somehow being above other lawnmower beers like Pabst, Shlitz etc. If I was forced to choose between any those I’d pick Shlitz, Pabst, Old Style etc. over Budweiser any day. Bud really is just rancid, and by cheap beer, convenience store standards too.

      1. Oh, man, Old Style – the swill of university days.  Kinda miss that crap.  Can’t get it in Michigan, but randomly we again have Hamm’s.  Though that’s more of a fishing beer than a lawnmower beer.  Prefer Labatt or Molson for mowing. ;-)

          1. Yeah.  Right there with ya.  Even the swills owned by the megabrewers taste better than the megabrews.

      2. Hear, hear.  Back in college, I used to joke about how Stroh’s was a beer that should include a hose and a funnel in every case.  But the truth was that it wasn’t really any worse than Budweiser (or Miller, or Coors, or…), it was just cheaper, and therefore more economical to consume in volume.

        The brewmaster at the Weeping Radish brewery in NC likes to point out that the wonderful thing about macrobrews is the consistency — the fact that you can buy a case of Bud in Seattle in January and it will taste the same as a case bought in Nashville in July.  And he has a point.  Macrobrews are the fast food of beers.  Quality and character take a backseat to consistency and economy.

        But again, if Budweiser is watering down their beer, at least they’re probably doing it consistently across the line.  Which shouldn’t matter to Bud drinkers, because taste and character weren’t the name of the game in the first place.

        To any butthurt Bud fans out there, I’d be happy to provide you with a long list of superior beers to drown your sorrows in.

      3. “Lawnmower beer” is the right phrase for understanding Budweiser and its ilk.  If you’re in St. Louis MO (where Anheuser Busch is based) in the summer, where it’s 100 degrees and 95% humidity outside, and you’ve been out working on your lawn, a cold Budweiser is exactly the right thing to drink.  It’s cold, acidic, lightly beer flavored, not too alcoholic, and rehydrates you quickly. 

        You really can’t drink a Guinness in that weather (or at least not until you’ve had a Bud or two to cool yourself down.)  Save that for places with weather like Dublin or San Francisco.  Bud’s not a great beer, but it’s perfectly fine for some environments.

  8. Apparently after prohibition the supply chains were so weakened, American brewers turned to Pilsners because you need far less ingredients to make ’em. And because it tasted watered down even back then, they
    encouraged everyone to drink it really cold rather than cellar temp like a manly beer.

    Nothing wrong with pilsners, but macrobrew pilsners have always been the 90 pound weaklings of beer -or what I call “training beer”. It’s ironic that so many buzz cut, penis compensating, F150 driving, mouth breathers drink the nancy-boy beers.

    Just sayin.

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