Legal Case Brings Us Closer to Answering an Existential Hard Seltzer Question

The road to quantifying beer

Corona seltzer
As a wise man almost said, "You can have any seltzer you want, as long as it's a Corona."
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Earlier this year, a lawsuit against Fireball helped explain why the boozy product in question could be sold in grocery stores, which don’t sell hard liquor in many states. Now, another legal issue has come up to help classify a very different type of booze — in this case, hard seltzer. Hard seltzer has a neither-fish-nor-fowl quality to it — it’s usually filed along with beer where you can buy beer, but it’s a category unto itself. Right?

Well, maybe not. VinePair has news concerning a recent lawsuit over the very existence of Corona Hard Seltzer — and it has implications for the relationship between beer and hard seltzer moving forward.

A Reuters article on the verdict in the case has more details on the case — and what it might mean for some industry giants. Grupo Modelo — itself a part of Anheuser-Busch InBev — sued Constellation Brands over Constellation’s use of the Corona name for a line of hard seltzer.

As Reuters notes, Constellation has had the right to distribute the beer Corona since 1996. Constellation argued that this meant that they could also sell hard seltzer using the brand name; Grupo Modelo disagreed. Unfortunately for them, the jury found in favor of Constellation.

As The Drinks Business noted in their report in the case, Constellation’s argument that their license permitted them to sell beer and malt beverages under the Corona name — and that seems to have held sway in the two-week trial. Is hard seltzer a type of beer, then? In the legal sense, it just might be.


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