Walmart Sued Over Craft Beer
Ken Wolter /

Take note of who you call “craft” in the craft beer aisle. A lawsuit is in the works against Walmart for calling it’s corporate beer “craft beer.”

An Ohio man named Matthew Adam is behind the class action lawsuit. Adam says that Walmart’s beer, Trouble Brewing, markets and prices itself as a small-batch product even though it clearly is not. He claims he suffered an “injury in fact,” saying that “essentially, the Craft Beer is not worth the purchase price paid.” Trouble is indeed brewing — for Walmart.

“Defendant’s (Walmart) Craft Beer has never been a ‘craft beer’ nor has it been produced by a craft brewery,” the lawsuit asserts. “Rather, it is a wholesale fiction created by the Defendant that was designed to deceive consumers into purchasing the Craft Beer at a higher, inflated price.”

The lawsuit pulls out definitions for craft beer from the Cambridge Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The latter defines craft beer as “a specialty beer produced in limited quantities.” The Brewers Association is more specific: Craft breweries must make less than 6 million barrels a year and mass producers can’t own more than 25 percent of the company.

Walmart knows exactly what it’s doing here. Teresa Budd, a senior buyer for Walmart’s alcohol team, said that the company was “intentional about designing a package that conveyed a look and feel you’d expect of craft beer.” The packaging isn’t the only thing that’s a lie, either. Trouble Brewing doesn’t exist, it’s made by Winery Exchange Inc., now WX Brands, in the Genesee Brewing facilities in Rochester, N.Y. Genesee Brewing is owned by a Costa Rican company called Florida Ice and Farm Company.

When VinePair first learned about Walmart’s beer, we acknowledged that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying big beer, but that it’s important to call things what they really are. As Adam’s lawsuit says, “consumers are particularly vulnerable to these kinds of false and deceptive labeling and marketing practices.”

Until the class action lawsuit is decided, take some time to learn a little more about the “craft” behind your craft beer.

Read the whole lawsuit here.