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Makers of Kona Beer Sued for Not Brewing Its Beer in Hawaii

A bottle of Kona beer seems like a perfect treat for a day on a beach, but two Californians are extremely disappointed with the brand. And that’s because they found out that the beer isn’t brewed in Hawaii. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, they claim that the brand is misleading shoppers to believe that the island-style beer’s one and only homeland is Hawaii. Falsely believing in it made them overpay for the products, they say.

Two Californians are Sara Cilloni and Simone Zimmer. They accuse Craft Brew Alliance being deceitful about the destination of its Kona Brewing Co. beers. The company is the fifth largest in the U.S with brewing its products in Hemisphere, Tennessee, Washington, and Oregon.

What Made Them Think So?

The plaintiffs claim that the Hawaii themed packaging causes the confusion. The bottle design features hula dancers, surfers, Waikiki beach, The Kilauea volcano and a number of other symbols and phrases associated with Hawaii.

Beer names such as Fire Rock Pale Ale, Longboard Island Lager, and Big Wave Golden also reinforce the false belief, claims the lawsuit.

However, there is no notice on the package about where exactly the company brews it, alleges the complaint. It adds that “Consumers purchase items, and are willing to pay more for items because they are from Hawaii. Craft Brew is well aware of this.”

Other Details

What’s more confusing is that Kona Brewing does actually have a brewing facility along with a pub in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. However, its production is as small as 12.000 barrels per year. Any Kona beer on sale in upper 48 the company brews in the U.S. These facts are available on the company’s website. Despite that, the plaintiffs still claim that the branding is misleading.

According to the website, the company makes the beer at partner breweries. It’s making involves hops, malt, and proprietary from the island. The mineral levels of water are also under a regulation to replicate the water used in Hawaii. The website also mentions that they send samples from each beer to the Kailua-Kona for sensory evaluation.

Will a Class Action Lawsuit Follow?

The lawsuit was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California and now seeks to grow into class-action. It seeks to uncover unspecified damages for Kona buyers in California and nationwide over four years.

One out of Many Cases

Beers have been in the legal spotlight for a long while. Similar lawsuits accused many other beer companies of false marketing. In the past, consumers sued for their beers not made in Australia or not brewed by monks.

The time will show how many disappointed consumers will the Kona beer lawsuit unite. Meanwhile, Craft Brew Alliance refuses to comment on pending litigation.


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