The battle between two giant beer companies shows no sign of fizzling out.
According to court documents filed Thursday, Anheuser-Busch accuses MillerCoors of stealing secret recipes for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
Anheuser claims a former brewer, who went on to work for MillerCoors in 2017, broke a confidentiality agreement and helped steal the recipes. The St. Louis based company said the recipes include the geographic source, precise mixture, and specific varieties of the hops used to brew Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
Anheuser alleges the former employee got information from current workers in the days right before and after the Superbowl.
A spokesperson for MillerCoors responded to the claims saying:
"Anheuser Busch has lost three major federal rulings in this case and now they are simply trying to distract from the basic fact that they intentionally misled American consumers.
MillerCoors respects confidential information and takes any contrary allegations seriously, but if the ingredients are a secret, why did they spend tens of millions of dollars telling the entire world what’s in Bud Light? And why are the ingredients printed on Bud Light’s packaging in giant letters?
As for their tired claims about corn syrup, the same residual elements they are talking about are also found in Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. If this is their argument, it’s no wonder they have lost three rulings in this case already."
The allegations are the latest jab in an ongoing dispute that started during the last Superbowl when Anheuser-Busch released an ad claiming MillerCoors used corn syrup in their beer.
"Generally speaking any product or service category one or two major players start throwing mud at each other it has a negative impact on the entire category," said Andy Larsen, Vice President at the Boelter + Lincoln advertising agency in Milwaukee.
Big beer companies are already struggling against craft brews, and while the majority of macro beer drinkers may not care about the drama Larsen says there is a small percentage that who might.
"It's a segment that's declining, and they are fighting for every percentage point they can get so in that sense it might be a big deal," Larsen said.