Trouble's Brewing for Wal-Mart's Craft Beers

February 15th 2017

Nicole Levin

Last summer, Walmart released a line beers under the Trouble Brewery label to bring "craft beer to the masses." Now, one of the masses is suing, alleging "the trouble is 'Trouble Brewing' doesn't really exist.'"

Earlier this week, Matthew Adam, a Cincinnati Native, filed a class action lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court accusing Walmart of deceiving customers.

Walmart Beer

Adam asserts that Walmart's Trouble Brewing Brand "has never been a 'craft beer,' nor has it been produced by a craft brewery."

Citing statements from a member of Wal-Mart’s adult beverage team, Adam alleges that Wal-Mart marketed and stocked mass-produced beers in a crafty package in order to perpetuate a “wholesale fiction" which was created "to deceive customers into purchasing the craft beer at a higher, inflated price."

The lawsuit claims that the beers of "Trouble Brewing" are actually created by WX Brands, according to an application with the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tax Bureau. The lawsuit further notes that the address of the brewery listed on the TTB document links to Genesee Brewing, a Rochester, New York-based brewery which makes "Costa Rican lagers among other industrial brands."

The plaintiff is seeking compensation and punitive damages for anyone in the state who purchased a Trouble Brewing beer.

According to the suit, this beer does not meet the Brewer's Association's criteria for craft beer.

According to the Brewers Association, a non-profit trade association, in order to be considered craft, a brewer must produce less than six million barrels of beer a year, be less than twenty-five percent owned or controlled by an alcoholic industry member that is not a craft brewer, and make beer using only traditional or innovative brewing ingredients. By this definition, the plaintiff argues that Walmart's product is not craft.

When asked for comment, Ragan Dickens, director of National Media Relations at Walmart, gave this statement: “We hold our suppliers to high standards and are committed to providing our customers the quality products they expect. While we have not yet been served with the complaint, we take this matter seriously and intend to defend ourselves against the allegations."