If you have been to a Japanese steak house in the past few years, you may have decided to go native an order a Japanese beer. But, if you ordered a Kirin, you may not have realized that you were really drinking a beer brewed in the United States by Anheuser-Busch. If you did not know this, you are not the only one. And, A-B has agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement in response to a class-action suit due to the confusion caused by labeling on the product.
In October 2014, Miami residents Lady J. Suarez and Gustavo E. Oliva filed a class action suit alleging that, “The defendant has collected millions of dollars from the sale of Kirin beer that it would not have otherwise earned.”
According to officials at Anheuser-Busch, the label on Kirin cans and bottles states, “Brewed under Kirin’s strict supervision by Anheuser-Busch,” but the lawsuit claimed the disclaimer does not sufficiently identify that the product is not imported since it is not visible on the outside packaging of six-packs and 12-packs.
“Plaintiffs paid money for a product that is not what it claims to be or what they bargained for,” the lawsuit said.
Kirin, along with other previously imported beers like Beck’s, is no longer brewed abroad for distribution in the United States. Instead, the beers are brewed by Anheuser-Busch at one of their domestic breweries. In the case of Kirin, A-B began brewing the beer in 1996 at their Los Angeles, Ca. and Williamsburg, Va. breweries.
Under the terms of the preliminary settlement, A-B will have to reimburse customers who bought the Kirin anytime between Oct. 25, 2009, and Dec. 17, 2014, due to alleged deceptive packaging.
Customers will be reimbursed $0.50 for cans or bottles purchased in a six-pack and $1.00 for cans or bottles purchased in a 12-pack. If receipts are produced, they can get up to $50. Those without proof of purchase can still get up to $12 if they register a claim. Claims can be registered by mail or online, starting next week, though the website has not yet been announced.