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Reuters reports that two California shoppers have sued Craft Brew Alliance, maker of Kona craft beer,, claiming that "they were deceived into believing the beer was made in Hawaii, causing them to overpay for it." Kona actually is made in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state.

According to the story, "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."

Craft Brew Alliance, which also makes Redhook and Widmer Brothers brands, has not yet commented on the suit.
KC's View:
To be honest, I've bought and enjoyed Longboard Island Lager, but it never occurred to me that it wasn't made in Hawaii. I also never checked the label - I just bought into the marketing. I'm not sure how the litigation will turn out, but there's a part of me that thinks that this is all a little deceptive ... and it'll be a long while before I buy a Kona beer again.

That said, the whole "craft beer" thing has gotten a little dodgy. There are a lot of craft brewers being bought up by multinational conglomerates, and a lot of big brewers that are making beer brands designed to look like craft beers. Is this all a little deceptive? Sure. Is it actionable? I have no idea.

There is currently a suit against Walmart for selling a beer positioned as a craft beer that actually is mass-produced by Rochester’s Genesee Brewing and meets none of the accepted criteria for what makes up a craft beer. Maybe the resolution of this suit will give us some guidance for how future litigation will turn out.

Maybe I'm getting into "get off my lawn" territory here, but I'm increasingly cranky about companies that are too cute by half about honestly telling customers where and how things are made, and what is in them. I'm not a big fan of lawsuits, but maybe it is going to take one big, highly visible courtroom defeat for companies to stop screwing around with consumer perceptions.