The practice of adding water to beer before it's packaged is common among large brewers. Called high-gravity brewing, it involves blending a potent brew with water. The water can help a brewer "stretch" the amount of the final product by at least 5 or 10 percent without changing the beer's flavor.
Meanwhile, the news of the lawsuit was greeted by jeers and jokes on Twitter and other social media sites.
In North America, Anheuser-Busch InBev generated $39 billion of revenues and sold 3.3 billion gallons of beer in 2011.
The complainants, Nina Giampaoli and John Elbert from California, say the alcohol content on the bottles of Bud Ice, Bud Lite Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime, are wrongly advertised.According to the suit Anheuser-Busch InBev uses technology to control the alcohol composition but adds water, which pushes down the alcohol below a promoted figure of 5 percent by volume.
Josh Boxer, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs,said the claims were not simply made on independent testing of the company's beers.
"We learned about the mislabeling from a number of former employees of AB (Anheuser-Busch) at breweries throughout the United States," Boxer said. "And some high-level guys at the brewery level all told us that as a matter of AB corporate policy, these target brands are watered down."
Boxer said dozens of companion lawsuits will be filed this week in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states.
Despite the allegations, Anheuser-Busch maintains the beers brewed are in "full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws." "The claims against Anheuser-Busch are completely false, and these lawsuits are groundless," said Peter Kraemer, vice-president of supply at Anheuser-Busch.
Even some samples sent for testing by NPR found the beer products to be in line with their advertised alcohol content.
According to NPR, tests conducted on Budweiser, Bud Light Lime, and Michelob Ultra this week by San Diego's White Labs found that "the alcohol percentages inside the cans were the same as what was stated on the can," says analytical laboratory specialist Kara Taylor.
"Some of them were spot-on. Others deviated, plus or minus, within a hundredth of a percentage" - well within federal limits, she was quoted by the NPR.