Budweiser bites back over 'watered down beer' claims with advert

The maker of Budweiser is using splashy newspaper adverts to poke fun at legal action claiming its beer is watered down.

In full-page ads in ten US newspapers, including The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Anheuser-Busch InBev shows one of the 71 million cans of drinking water it has sent to the American Red Cross and other relief organisations responding to disasters.

"They must have tested one of these," the ad says.

A class action lawsuit filed in several states, accuses the brewer of cheating consumers out of the stated alcohol percentage by adding water just before bottling its beers.

The water cuts the alcohol content by 3 -8%, according to the lawsuit's lead lawyer Josh Boxer. The lawsuits are based on information from former employees at the company's 13 US breweries, some in top-level plant positions, he has said.

Anheuser-Busch InBev says the claims are groundless and in the ads, the company calls its beer "the best beer we know how to brew".

"We take no shortcuts and make no exceptions. Ever."

Neither the ads nor a statement by an Anheuser-Busch spokesman directly addresses the complaint. "We never waver on quality," a spokesman said in the statement.

Mr Boxer said the ads amounted to "classic non-denial denials". He said the company would be asked to produce internal alcohol testing data in court that would prove his case.

"These alcohol readings, taken six times a second as the finished product is bottled, will confirm the allegations made by the growing number of former employees who keep coming forward to tell us the truth," he said.

[Budweiser Rejects 'Watered-Down' Lawsuit]

The suit involves 10 Anheuser-Busch products: Budweiser; Bud Ice; Bud Light Platinum; Michelob; Michelob Ultra; Hurricane High Gravity Lager; King Cobra; Busch Ice; Natural Ice; and Bud Light Lime.

Anheuser-Busch, based in St. Louis, Missouri, merged with InBev in 2008 to form the world's largest alcohol producer, headquartered in Belgium.

In 2011, the company produced 10 billion gallons of malt beverages, three billion gallons of them in the US, and reported 22 billion dollars' profit from that category, the lawsuit said.

Lawsuits have been filed in California, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas so far. Each seeks at least five million dollars in damages.

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