Miami Man Sues Coors Because Its Beer Doesn't Include Rocky Mountain Water

Update 3/4/16: MillerCoors responded to the lawsuit, calling it "baseless" in a statement. The company's full response is included at the end of the post. 

For years, Coors has branded its beer with soaring mountain landscapes and slogans such as "Brewed With Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water." But what if it's not? 

As Coors has expanded from a regional favorite to a corporate giant that brews Coors Light all over the country, it's famed Golden, Colorado headquarters no longer has much to do with a lot of its product. And to one outraged Miami beer drinker, that's enough to amount to false advertising.

That demanding cerveza fan, Joaquin Lorenzo, has filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Civil Court and is asking for a class action over the mountain-brewing claims. The dispute may seem petty, but Lorenzo's lawyers say it's a clear case of a corporate giant misleading its customers.

"As any beer aficionado will tell you, water sourcing is a very important detail in our craft-brew-crazy society," says Jared Beck, the Kendall-based attorney who filed the suit for Lorenzo. "If you look at Coors and its advertising and its packaging, our legal team really believes they've crossed the line into deception and falsehoods."

In an 11-page complaint — which name-checks Smoky and the Bandit — Beck lays out his argument for how Coors' Colorado-themed brand crossed the line into bogus advertising as the brand expanded. At one time, he argues, the Golden plant could reasonably set itself apart from competitors by noting its crisp Rocky Mountain water source.

But Coors merged with Molson in 2004 and then an even larger conglomerate as MillerCoors in 2008. Although the Golden plant still makes all of the nation's Coors Banquet, Coors Light is brewed all over the place. 

Beck lays out a host of recent ads, such as this one that debuted last month, tying the flagship light beer to the Rockies: 

That's no longer a fair tie to make, he claims. 

"I think Coors is creating the distinct impression among beer consumers they're getting something special when they get Coors," Beck says. "As someone who has had a beer or two in the past, I know when you make that decision at the store or at a bar, these kind of things make a difference."

Before you laugh off the case, there is some precedent for courts being stingy with beer advertising. Anheuser-Busch settled a class-action case last year for misleadingly advertising Kirin Ichiban, which was actually brewed in the States, not Japan.  

Beck says his client is just a regular ol' backyard drinker who wants to fight for the little guy. "He's your regular citizen who wants to stand up as someone who enjoys a beer, including Coors," he says. "And I think if you go around and ask people on the street, people who drink Coors, you'll hear they had no idea it was brewed anywhere but Colorado."

Coors spokespeople didn't return New Times' calls requesting comment on the lawsuit. The company's attorneys have yet to file a response to the suit in Miami court.  

Update 3/4/16: MillerCoors defended its advertising in a statement sent to New Times

This lawsuit is totally baseless and without merit. Coors Light was born in the Rockies in 1978 and that fact remains true today. The brand’s messaging continues to be inspired by its Rocky Mountain birthplace. We are proud that its popularity allows us to brew Coors Light in several of our breweries and we clearly communicate that fact on our packaging.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink