California Pair Sues Kona Brewing over Misrepresentation of Beer Origins

Two California locals have filed a lawsuit claiming that the company who owns Kona Brewing Co misleads consumers, tricking them into thinking that the beer is brewed in Hawaii.

A lawyer representing the pair entered the lawsuit into court on Tuesday, calling Craft Brew Alliance Inc a the defendants. The lawsuit lists violations of California advertising law and misrepresentation, though Kona Brewing Co has not been named, specifically, as a defendant.

More specifically, though, the lawsuit accounts: “The entire brand image of Kona Brewing Company – including the name itself – revolves around its purported Hawaii origins. Craft Brew ubiquitously uses Hawaii imagery, references, metaphors, and outright misstatements in order to cultivate this image.”

If you pay a visit to the Kona Brewing Co. website you might begin to understand some of the controversy. The website of the Kailua-Kona brewery claims that the company produces roughly 12,000 barrels of beer every day—and sells much of it in Hawaii—but the company also produces bottled and draft beer on the mainland in the four states mentioned within the lawsuit. These are New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington State. Furthermore, the suit claims that there is no appropriate information on the bottles or the packaging that discloses the beer’s production origin.

Now, Kona Brewing Co responds that its partner breweries (in these four states) adjust their water mineral levels independently in order to replicate the water used in Hawaii and, perhaps more importantly, samples of batch are always sent back to the home brewer for evaluation. The plaintiffs argue, though, that this is not enough for the company to refrain from informing consumers of the beer’s origin (when they are likely assuming it comes directly from Hawaii).

Indeed, the lawsuit contends: “Plaintiffs and other consumers purchased Kona Brewing Co. beer because they reasonably believed – based on Craft Brew’s advertising and labeling – that this beer originates from Hawaii. As a result, plaintiffs and other consumers have been deceived and have suffered economic injury.”
The complaint also argues that consumers would probably not buy the beer “had they known the true origins of the Kona Brewing Co. beer they purchased.”

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