Suit: Kona beer leads drinkers to believe it's made only in Hawaii

Published: Mar. 1, 2017 at 10:37 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2017 at 1:15 PM HST
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KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two California shoppers are suing the distributors of Kona Brewing Company saying they were deceived into thinking the beer was made in Hawaii.

In the federal lawsuit filed in San Jose, Calif., Sara Cilloni and Simone Zimmer said they paid more for the beer because they thought it came from the islands. They're looking for a refund for themselves and others.

Law360 reports the lawsuit claims Craft Brew Alliance Inc. misleads consumers about the origin of its Kona Brewing Company beers.

The suit says the beer distributor actually makes much of its beer in New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington state.

The two shoppers allege that the company's "deception" includes the use of Hawaii imagery (hula dangers, surfers and Waikiki Beach) on its labels, and its island-inspired beer names, including Big Wave Golden Ale and Longboard Island Lager.

"Consumers purchase items, and are willing to pay more for items, because they are from Hawaii," the lawsuit said. "Craft Brew has been able to overcharge plaintiffs and other consumers for beer, induce purchases that would otherwise not have occurred, and/or obtain wrongful profits."

Kona Brewing Company is headquartered in Hawaii, and on its website the company says it runs its "flagship brewhouse in Kailua-Kona," producing more than 12,000 barrels of beer a year.

The company also notes: "Under strict guidance, Kona Brewing Company also produces its bottled beer and mainland draft beer in Portland, Oregon, Woodinville, Washington, Memphis, Tennessee, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as part of its partnership with Craft Brew Alliance, Inc."

The suit is the latest in a string of legal action against craft beer brewers.

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