It took a 14-month fight, but a federal judge has thrown out a class-action lawsuit accusing MillerCoors of deceptively marketing Blue Moon as a “craft beer” product. Gonzalo Curiel, the U.S. district judge whose name probably rings a bell thanks to attacks by onetime arch-nemesis Donald Trump, dismissed the case, arguing the plaintiff and self-described “beer aficionado” Evan Parent had failed to prove MillerCoors did anything wrong by advertising Blue Moon as “Artfully Crafted” and placing it in the craft-beer aisle in stores. Curiel wrote that these beefs were over “generalized, vague, and unspecified assertions that amount to mere puffery upon which a reasonable consumer could not rely.”
Parent called Blue Moon “an almost entirely fictitious brewery,” citing ads he argued “falsely represent that Blue Moon is brewed by a small, independent craft brewery, rather than the second largest brewing company in the United States.” He claimed MillerCoors tells retailers to put Blue Moon in the section with real craft brews, and even coaches stadiums and concerts to describe it as a bona fide “craft” offering. But whatever the other guys did, MillerCoors was apparently careful to never use the words “craft beer” itself, and Curiel said the megabrewer isn’t responsible for where retailers put its products or how concessionaires sell them.
The most widely cited definition for “craft brewery” is the Brewers Association’s: a beer-maker that’s independently owned, produces fewer than 6 million barrels a year, and only uses traditional or innovative ingredients. That obviously doesn’t apply to MillerCoors, but in one of Curiel’s biggest blows to the craft-beer industry, he agreed with the beer conglomerate that this point’s immaterial because, for now, “craft brewery” still doesn’t have a widely agreed-upon definition.