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Bud Beer Scandal Came to a Head, Went Flat

Tickers in this article: BUD TAP

Least Favored in 2013: Featuring the year's shockers from Wall Street to Washington. Read Fed Policy shenanigans; Tech spies; SeaWorld tragedy; Caterpillar-China scandal; Bud Beer scandal; Bill Ackman's Herbalife; LIBOR rigging; Forex Scandal; and check out this video CEO Walk of Shame.
 


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street has seen its fair share of bad headlines this year: The Federal Reserve's policy decisions, our fragile economy, the up and down market.

It's enough to drive you to drink -- which is why I'm focusing on beer.

Not just any beer, but one of the world's best-known beers, Budweiser, brewed by what is now known as Anheuser-Busch Inbev .

Anheuser-Busch made headines in February when it was accused of, gasp, watering down its beer. Media outlets picked up the story as beer drinkers reacted in horror. Multi-million-dollar lawsuits in California, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, among others, resulted, accusing the company of cheating its customers out of the alcohol content stated on the labels.

A number of disgruntled employees, starting with James Clark, the former director of operations and support for Budweiser, alleged the company used excess water just before bottling process in an effort to maximize output and cut costs.

But it wasn't just The King of Beers whose alcohol content fell to 4.7% from the stated 5%. The additional water was also added to Bud Ice, Bud Light Platinum, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Hurricane High Gravity Lager, King Cobra, Busch Ice, Natural Ice and Bud Light Lime.

Did you notice any difference?

According to the lawsuits, Anheuser-Busch has sophisticated equipment to measure the alcohol content of beer throughout the brewing process. This technology supposedly has the capabilities to accurately predict the alcohol content to within one-hundredth of a percent. However, the lawsuit claimed after the all-American Bud merged with the Belgian Inbev in 2008, the company utilized this technology to dilute its beer.

Anheuser denied this, of course. Peter Kraemer, vice president of brewing and supply, stated the company's "beers are in full compliance with all alcohol labeling laws. We proudly adhere to the highest standards in brewing our beers, which have made them the best-selling in the U.S. and the world,"

Well, that's all well and good. But BUD also wants to make a buck.