MillerCoors Sued For Calling Blue Moon ‘Craft Beer’

The lawsuit was filed by a beer lover who's simply not having it.

Tons of people enjoy a Blue Moon beer. Seriously, how many people have ordered one just for the orange slice? But orange slices do not a craft beer make.

MillerCoors is facing a class action lawsuit filed by one beer aficionado, Evan Parent, “on behalf of all Blue Moon buyers in California” because he says Blue Moon’s pricing, marketing and store placement made them think it’s a craft beer.

According to guidelines set out by the Brewer’s Association, a craft beer trade group, and quoted in Men’s Journal, “a craft brewer must be small (less than 6 million barrels, which MillerCoors exceeds), independent (not owned by a non-craft brewery or business), and traditional (using traditional and innovative ingredients).”

However, a legal expert notes that there are no government guidelines, which makes the definition of “craft beer” largely dependent on the consumer.

Working in Parent’s favor are strict California laws. And even though MillerCoors directs Blue Moon attention to the Blue Moon brewery (notably smaller than MillerCoors), the courts might smell something fishy about that. Personally, I’ve seen Blue Moon ads popping up on TV lately. It would seem that a number of 30-second TV spots would be out of the budget for a small craft brewery.

MillerCoors responded with this statement:

“MillerCoors is tremendously proud of Blue Moon and has always embraced our ownership and support of this wonderful brand. The class action filed against MillerCoors in California is without merit and contradicted by Blue Moon Brewing Company’s 20-year history of brewing creative beers of the highest quality.”

We may not have hard-and-fast rules about what qualifies as a craft beer, but we all collectively understand that it means a small-batch beer made from a small brewery. While Blue Moon might be a small brewery, the fact that it has the backup of MillerCoors means that there’s something large-scale going on here. There’s the question of whether Blue Moon lives up to the spirit of the term “craft beer” in the minds of the consumers who would care about that. I’d venture a guess that the answer for them would be no.

Lots of food and beverage companies are using the sourcing of ingredients and some keywords — “organic,” “small-batch,” “natural,” “craft,” “artisan” — to allude to something more wholesome, healthy, higher quality and worth a few extra bucks. This is shady to say the least. Never have I or anyone I know ever ordered a Blue Moon thinking they were getting a craft beer. And honestly, that doesn’t make a difference. It’s more important that the marketing is honest and the product is good.