This story was first reported by KOMO TV (it's now spread to other outlets), which had operatives collect beer samples on two separate trips to CenturyLink during Sounders and Seahawks games. Samples were smuggled out of the stadium (it's illegal to do that) in small vials and subsequently evaluated by a Seattle lab.
The lab results showed that all of the six beers tested fell short of the advertised ABV. In some cases, the shortfall was minimal and within federal guidelines, which allow a discrepancy of up to .3% below the stated number. In other cases, not so much. Below, the results.
Redhook No Equal
Bass Pale Ale
There's a lively discussion about this on the KOMO site. Some folks are pointing out that it's illegal to remove beer from the stadium. Very helpful. Others point out how implausible watered down beer is, given the challenges.
One of my industry friends (not with Anheuser-Busch, which owns five of the six brands tested) says the risks of watering beer, whether in the stadium or in production, far outweigh the financial benefits. There are actual laws that include some fairly stiff penalties, I guess.
I'm not a lab technician or scientist, but I wonder if these results could have somehow been tainted by sample sizes, storage methods or time between collecting samples and evaluating them. There ought be a more formal investigation of this mess, I think.
The timing of this news isn't good. A couple of years back fans learned that large and small cups at CenturyLink held the same amount of beer. Thus, people paying $1.25 more for a large cup were getting the same amount of beer as the cheapskates who ordered the small. Stadium suits took the Fifth..."We didn't know." Of course they didn't. Needless to say, trust in stadium management has been running a little thin of late. Now the ABV controversy.
Think about this situation for a few seconds and connect the dots. Seahawks fans are going to need more, not less, alcohol to get through this year's nail-biters. If fans think stadium management is screwing them on ticket prices and beer, they'll drink more before games and smuggle in extra booze to hold them over during the games. Getting "blitzed" may take on a whole new meaning.
This may not work out well.