Posted 27 February 2013 - 18:26
If it's advertised as containing 5% ABV then that's what it should contain, within a reasonable margin of error. The issue seems to be what margin of error is acceptable and whether people have been misled. If the alcohol content is out by 8%, as alleged, then that would mean a 5% ABV beer would only contain 4.6% ABV. This is where it depends on the regulations per country - in the EU the margin of error for beers not exceeding 5.5% ABV is 0.5%, so it would be within that margin; in Australia the labelling must be accurate to within 0.3%, so it would be outside that margin.
Providing it complies with the US regulations of alcohol labelling it's a perfectly valid business practice. When you consider the scale that these businesses operate on a small percentage can make a big difference to the profitability of a product. That said, deliberately aiming for the bottom end of the legally allowed margin of error is ethnically wrong as the regulations weren't intended to allow manufacturers to deliberately supply under the amount they advertise, so it's perfectly understandable that people are annoyed.