In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

AB InBev Tries to Fleece Patagonia

Outdoor goods company sues, alleging the brew giant stole its name and logo.

patagoniaVpatagoniaWhat’s in a name? If you are global megabrewer AB InBev, connotations of health, environmentalism, and earthiness. That could be why it chose to launch a new beer under the Patagonia label. Unfortunately, the positive connotations were built off the reputation of outdoor goods retailer Patagonia, famous for its fleece outerwear and dedication to social causes. Or so the latter Patagonia alleges in a lawsuit.

As reported in the Washington Post, Patagonia alleges in its legal filing that, “In launching its Patagonia beer, [AB InBev] deliberately has attempted to take advantage of the hard-earned reputation that Patagonia has built over the last 40 years as a company dedicated to environmental conservation.”

Certainly there is a strong resemblance. Both the beer and the gear are emblazoned with silhouetted mountain ranges, with the name written in rustic font. This potentially plays off of the customer base that the clothing manufacturer has built over the years. But it also plays into a more sinister message that AB InBev has been trying to embrace: that beer is somehow healthful.

The megabrewer has used many other strategies besides brand confusion to drive this message home. Earlier this year, they debuted nutritional labels on Bud Light. Meanwhile, their Michelob label has run extensive campaigns linking itself to exercise and workout culture. Most egregiously, AB InBev committed over $15 million to fund NIAAA’s corrupt MACH 15 study, which was specifically designed to distort the long-term effects of alcohol use to make it seem healthier. In every case, the campaigns disregard the basic health impact of alcohol itself.

“This is the same shell game that Big Alcohol has been pulling for years,” said Carson Benowitz-Fredericks, Research Manager at Alcohol Justice. “Show some snow-covered peaks and hide the tumor-riddled livers.”

Of course, the gear brand Patagonia is not above pulling the same trick. As IOGT notes, the company has its own line of beer, that likewise benefits from the company’s association with environmentalism and an outdoor lifestyle. After trying to put their own cans on the mountain, is it any surprise that Patagonia’s mountains were stolen for AB InBev’s cans?

READ MORE about the alcohol industry’s deceptive messaging around healthy drinking.

READ MORE about the corrupt MACH 15 study.

READ MORE about Michelob’s lies surrounding beer and exercise. 

Third Time’s the Harm: 4 A.M. Bar Bill Back for 2019

sb905 girlonsidewalkThere is tenacity, there is stubbornness, and then there is a determination to ignore the health and wellbeing of your constituents no matter what you’ve learned. Call it “Wienerness.” In 2017, California State Sen. Scott Wiener introduced a bill to strip away California’s standardized 2 a.m. last call times. Rather than agree to study the impacts of the bill, Sen. Wiener pulled it then reintroduced it in 2018, this time as a geographically limited “pilot project”. After the senator began arbitrarily adding new cities to the “pilot,” Gov. Jerry Brown put the brakes on it with a veto.

“I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to two without adding two more hours of mayhem,” the then-Governor wrote in his veto message.

And now Sen. Wiener continues his campaign of contempt for evidence-based policy. The 4 a.m. bar bill has been reintroduced for a third time, in violation of the spirit of senate rules that discourage reintroducing failed bills in consecutive sessions. The new—but functionally identical—bill, SB 58, opens up ten of the largest cities in California to late last calls. This would have the effect of dramatically raising rates of violence, injury, crime, and driving under the influence. Moreover, because the bill affects such major metropolitan areas, it creates a “splash effect,” wherein outlying towns and cities are burdened with intoxicated late-night traffic while the economic benefits accrue only in the big city centers.

“Later bar times benefit business owners while the cost of cleaning up spilled blood and splattered brains after 4 a.m. will come from public resources,” warns Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice.

It is time to hold Sen. Wiener accountable for his overt lies about last call times. Decades of research from across the developed world show that maintaining a sensible last call time lessens alcohol harms. Californians need to stand up to representatives who just channel their corporate clients, and end the 4 a.m. fiasco for good.

TAKE ACTION to stop the 4 A.M. bar bill for the third time, or text "JUSTICE" to 313131

READ MORE about the harms of extending last call times

Sting Finds Fraud In Up To 70% of CA Brewpubs

Keep drinking those kegs, Napa Valley!A recent California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) operation targeting 70 licensed brewpubs found nearly 50 of them to be in violation of the terms of their license, the department announced. Brewpubs, defined as bars and restaurants that brew their own beer for sale, are allowed a full liquor bar so long as they meet a certain quote of beer production and sale. Approximately 150 venues in California qualify as brewpubs.

"This is an outrage, but not a surprise," said Michael Scippa, Public Relations Director of Alcohol Justice. "Give the industry an inch, they'll take a mile, and these brewpub licenses were a mile to begin with."

Brewpubs operate on what is classified as a Type 75 license, distinct from a normal full-bar Type 47 license. Under Type 75, the venue can maintain a full bar so long as it brews at least 200 barrels of beer on-site each year while operating a full restaurant. The exemption was originally carved out to provide an economic boost for craft breweries, but many licensees saw it as a cheap end-run around the more limited Type 47. As the Napa Valley Register notes, Type 75 licensees historically did not even have to sell the beer. They could donate it, give it away, or pour it down the drain, while retaining the income from the full liquor bar.

The California legislature modified the production requirement this year, raising the minimum production to 200 barrels per year, and requiring documented sales. However, many of the venues ABC investigated were not even able to meet the pre-2018 requirements. Even restaurants intending to follow the new requirements may fall short in 2019. The Register calculates that, for all purported brewpubs in Napa to meet their sale minimums, every single beer-drinking tourist would have to buy two pints from a brewpub specifically--on top of everything they drink from establishments with other types of of licenses in the area.

According to ABC Deputy Director Eric Hirata, disciplinary actions against violators ranged from a suspension of their hard liquor privileges to a full revocation of their license. Some venues simply surrendered their Type 75 license outright, rather than try and comply with the brewing requirements. But ultimately, public involvement in the monitoring process is essential to preventing ongoing abuse.

"The community can assist in keeping Type 75 licensees in compliance by telephoning complaint to their local ABC district office," Deput Director Hirata advised via email.

Not all community members are convinced that brewpubs can or should be simply kept in line. "The Type 75 was always an open invitation for fraud," said Mr. Scippa. "Rather than enforce or reform it, we need to get rid of it."

A list of local ABC offices is available here.