Putting Anheuser-Busch alcohol content to the test

ST. LOUIS - "Buzz kill." That was the global reaction to hearing allegations that Anheuser-Busch watered down its beer to boost profits. Class action lawsuits have been filed in three states, accusing the King of Beers of giving a paupers portion of alcohol.

The 18-page lawsuit makes Anheuser-Busch look bad, but the plaintiffs never independently tested the beer's alcohol content. So the I-Team hired St. Louis Testing Labs, a nationally certified independent lab, to do the work. NewsChannel 5 tested the content in cans of both Budweiser and Coors. While Coors was not part of the lawsuits, KSDK opted to test the can anyway for comparative purposes.

Both products claim to have 5 percent alcohol content.

The class action lawsuit alleges that Anheuser-Busch has the technology to precisely control the amount of alcohol in its beers but adds water so that the alcohol is well below what the label promises.

"According to our lawsuit, they know very well exactly how much alcohol is going in to every can, every bottle, every keg, but are intentionally misleading the public," said Josh Boxer, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

In fact, the suit claims A-B practices deliberate misrepresentation and is intentionally deceptive. Anheuser-Busch strongly denies the allegations, saying the claims are completely false and the lawsuits groundless.

At St. Louis Testing Labs, it takes about five hours to set up the standards and run the calibrations.

"We are going to run the samples multiple times. We have to do duplicates to make sure we are seeing good repeatability and precision," said Mike Sinn, manager at St. Louis Testing Lab.

Coors promised 5 percent alcohol. Our results found it contained 5 percent alcohol.

Meanwhile, Budweiser also promised 5 percent alcohol. We found it delivered 5 percent.

"What we understand from former workers who are well versed on how A-B tests their products, that you could never obtain the same type of accuracy if you don't use their statistical process controls," Boxer said.

And since we did not use A-B's statistical controls, Boxer said our findings didn't mean much.

"We're certain not changing course anytime soon," he said.

St. Louis Testing Labs stands by its findings, saying it's 99.99 percent confident with its results.

Miller Coors did not respond to our request for a comment regarding this test. A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch said she could not add more to the original statement that called the claims the lawsuit is without merit.


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