We here at Abnormal Use are lovers of craft beer. In fact, several years ago, we brought our love of craft beer to the blawgosphere and interviewed Adam Avery, President and Brewmaster of the Avery Brewing Company. As Avery mentioned in the interview, craft beer punches so much flavor when compared to the likes of Bud, Coors, and Miller beers which are “fairly flavorless and carbonated.” While MillerCoors and AB InBev, the major offenders of mass-produced beer, may never admit it, they know the flavor disparity is legitimate. Need proof? MillerCoors maintains a “craft and import division” which attempts to capitalize on the craft beer craze with the introduction of beers such as Blue Moon, its so-called “artfully crafted” Belgian-Style Wheat . Unfortunately for MillerCoors, the guise is up as the craft-ness of these beers is coming under fire. According to reports, a potential class action complaint was filed in California last week against MillerCoors alleging that the company violated numerous laws by claiming that Blue Moon is a craft beer. The plaintiffs allege that Blue Moon is brewed in MillerCoors’ Colorado and North Carolina breweries, which produce other MillerCoors’ beers like Coors, Milwaukee’s Best, Miller High Life, Icehouse, and Olde English. As an alleged attempt to deceive consumers, the MillerCoors name is nowhere to be found on the Blue Moon bottle. Further, the plaintiffs take issue with Blue Moon’s trademark phrase “artfully crafted,” which they allege misleads consumers into thinking they are buying a craft beer. The plaintiffs seek an injunction to stop Miller Coors from marketing Blue Moon as an independent craft beer operation and monetary damages. While there is no legal standard defining “craft beer,” the Brewer’s Association, a trade group concerned with the promotion of craft beer and homebrewing, sets forth the following qualifications for craft beer:
Fewer than 6 million barrels are produced annually;
A non-craft brewer can only own up to 25 percentof the craft brewer; and
The beer is to be made using only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients.
We here at Abnormal Use do not know exactly how Blue Moon fits into these qualifications (or, if the qualification will even stand up as a matter of law). Nonetheless, we do find the Blue Moon-MillerCoors relationship suspicious. Officially, Blue Moon is brewed by Blue Moon Brewing Company, an entity of Tenth and Blake Beer Company, the craft and import division of MillerCoors. Whether MillerCoors owns more than 25 percent of Blue Moon Brewing, we do not know. But, we do know that if Blue Moon is brewed in the same vicinity as the likes of Milwaukee’s Best, Icehouse, and Olde English, then it certainly doesn’t fit within our vision of a craft brew.
Regardless of how this lawsuit ends, we hope that beer drinkers continue to explore their options. Don’t stop drinking Blue Moon because it is associated with MillerCoors. Stop drinking Blue Moon because there are plenty of better options for a Belgian-Style Wheat beer. In the alternative, if you find that Blue Moon is in fact “artfully crafted,” drink it in a brown paper bag just like its other MillerCoors cohorts.