USA: Kona Brewing sued for not brewing all its beer in Hawaii

Kona Brewing Co. founded in 1994 in Kona, Hawaii, is sued for misleading customers about the origin of its beers. Two beer drinkers form California are saying they were falsely led to believe the product is produced in Hawaii because of labels feature like surfers , hula dancers, and other beachy themes, and names like Longboard Island Lager and Wailua Wheat. The lawsuit alleges, "consumers purchase items, and are willing to pay more for items, because they are from Hawaii."

In fact only about 12,000 barrels (about 14.000 hectoliters) of draft beer and beer that is sold on Hawaii island and in the brewery’s own pubs is produced at the original brewing site in Kona. The remainder comes from breweries in Oregon, Washington state, New Hampshire, and Tennessee, which are like Kona Brewing part of the Craft Brew Alliance, which in turn is controlled by AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer. The Craft Brew Alliance claims to be the fifth largest craft brewing company in the U.S and is not considered a craft brewer according to the strict rules of the Brewers Association.

Jenny McLean, Director Marketing and Communications and spokeswoman at Craft Brew Alliance did not want to comment on the pending litigation. However she confirmed that not all Kona Beer was brewed in Kona, Hawaii.

It is not the first time that AB InBev is confronted with an indictment for deceiving customers about the origin of its beers. In 2015, a federal judge approved a nearly $20 million settlement against AB InBev for Beck’s beer brewed in the United States because labelling of the product was intended to make consumers believe the beer was imported from Germany.

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