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Beer's civil war heats up with MillerCoors slamming a craft brewer's Keystone Light lawsuit as a 'clever publicity stunt'

Business Insider | Feb 13, 2018, 04.53AM IST

keystone light stone brewing

Facebook.com/StoneBrewing, Facebook.com/KeystoneLight

  • Craft beer company Stone Brewing announced Monday it is filing a lawsuit against MillerCoors, alleging that the company has employed copycat marketing of Keystone Light.
  • MillerCoors responded by calling the announcement a "clever publicity stunt."
  • Stone Brewing's cofounder accused MillerCoors of "once again playing dirty in their battle against independent beer" - and published a video of himself spitting out Keystone Light.

A craft brewer is slamming MillerCoors in a new lawsuit - and the beer giant is firing shots right back.

On Monday, Stone Brewing announced that it was filing a lawsuit against MillerCoors over the marketing and packaging of its Keystone Light beer.

The craft brewer's co-founder, Greg Koch, said in a video that the light beer brand is trying to "co-op our brand and our good name." Koch accused MillerCoors of deliberately confusing customers by making Keystone packaging look more like Stone brews. He also included a shot of himself trying Keystone Light and spitting it out.

MillerCoors swiftly responded to the allegations, pointing out that Keystone Light's invention predates Stone Brewing by almost a decade.

stone brewing

Stone Brewing

Stone Brewing cofounder Greg Koch is shown spitting out Keystone Light beer.

"This lawsuit is a clever publicity stunt with a multi-camera, tightly-scripted video featuring Stone's founder Greg Koch," MillerCoors representative Marty Maloney said in a statement to Business Insider.

"Since Keystone's debut in 1989," the statement continued, "prior to the founding of Stone Brewing in 1996, our consumers have commonly used 'Stone' to refer to the Keystone brand and we will let the facts speak for themselves in the legal process."

Koch and co-founder Steve Wagner have been vocal critics of Big Beer as Stone Brewing has grown to be one of the top 10 biggest craft brewers in the US over the last two decades.

Koch has jokingly referred to the battle of independent craft versus major beer brewers as one of "good versus evil." In the video, he alludes to brewers such as Wicked Weed and Goose Island that have "sold out" with acquisitions by beer industry giants - something he says Stone will never do.

"Big Beer is once again playing dirty in their battle against independent beer," Koch tweeted on Monday. "We didn't start this fight, but no way in hell are we going to back down from it."

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