The Kona Brewing ‘Hawaii-Gate’ Lawsuit Moves Forward

Is Kona Brewing deliberately deceiving customers into believing that their beers (those brewed on the mainland) were actually crafted in Hawaii?

A federal judge in California, who denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the brewery’s owner evidently thinks that there’s something that needs looking into.

The AP is reporting that the lawsuit brought by plaintiffs against the Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), which owns Kona Brewing (along with Redhook, Widmer Brothers), is to go forward.

Here’s the deal…

Last March, two California shoppers filed a class action suit against the CBA alleging that Kona Brewing, (who’s labels feature all kinds of imagery associated with Hawaii, and have names like Wailua Wheat and Longboard Island Lager), was deceiving customers into thinking that the beers they’d purchased were brewed in the islands.

In actuality, Kona does have a brewing facility and pub in Hawaii, but it’s a smaller operation which only produces around 12,000 barrels of beer a year.  

The Kona beers sold on the mainland are produced on the mainland, a fact that IS disclosed on the label, as well as on the brewery’s website.

In the ruling, US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman determined that Kona’s phrases and labelling imagery alone weren’t enough to substantiate the lawsuit. But that she did have concerns with their labels use of a Hawaiian map that marks “the Kona brewery and includes an invitation to visit it and pubs.”

Although the Craft Brew Alliance has expressed that they remain positive about this action’s outcome, clearly a motion to dismiss the lawsuit would have been preferable. Especially as Kona’s continuing double-digit success has helped them buffer ongoing sales losses at Redhook and Widmer Brothers Brewing.

Trial is scheduled for August 2020.

All image credits: Kona Brewing

About AmericanCraftBeer.com

AmericanCraftBeer.com is the nations' leading source for the Best Craft Beer News, Reviews, Events and Media.
Scroll To Top