Kona beer is not from Hawaii, consumers say in lawsuit

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By Jonathan Stempel

<span class="articleLocation”>The maker of Kona craft beer was sued on Tuesday
by two California shoppers who claim they were deceived into
believing the beer was made in Hawaii, causing them to overpay
for it.

Sara Cilloni and Simone Zimmer said Craft Brew Alliance Inc misleads consumers about the origin of its Kona Brewing
Co beers, saying the fifth-largest U.S. craft brewer actually
makes them in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington
state.

The plaintiffs said the alleged deception includes the use
on labels of hula dancers, surfers, the Kilauea volcano, Waikiki
beach, and other images and phrases associated with Hawaii, as
well as beer names such as Big Wave Golden Ale, Castaway IPA,
Fire Rock Pale Ale and Longboard Island Lager.

“Consumers purchase items, and are willing to pay more for
items, because they are from Hawaii,” the complaint said. “Craft
Brew is well aware of this.”

A spokeswoman for Craft Brew Alliance did not immediately
respond to requests for comment.

The Portland, Oregon-based company also owns the Redhook and
Widmer Brothers brands, among others.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs was not immediately available
for comment.

Tuesday’s lawsuit filed in the federal court in San Jose,
California, seeks class action status and unspecified damages
for Kona purchasers in that state and nationwide over four
years.

It is one of a handful of lawsuits that have accused beer
sellers of deceptive marketing.

On Feb. 10, Wal-Mart Stores Inc was sued in Ohio by
a consumer who said it sold at a premium price what appeared to
be craft beer under the Trouble Brewing brand, but that no such
brewery existed and the beer was contract-brewed.

Meanwhile, in 2015 a federal judge approved a roughly $20
million settlement of claims that Anheuser-Busch InBev NV tricked consumers into thinking its St. Louis-brewed
Beck’s beer was actually a German pilsner.

An Anheuser affiliate owns nearly one-third of Craft Brew
Alliance, Reuters data show.

The case is Cilloni et al v Craft Brew Alliance Inc et al,
U>S. District Court, Northern District of California, No.
17-01027.



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