Probably the worst thing that could happen when you're knocking back a cool, refreshing Tecate Light is to suddenly realize you mistakenly grabbed a Milwaukee's Best. Probably the second-worst thing would be to find a rat head floating at the top.
It's the second scenario that Everett Johnston of Colleyville said happened in late March, except he's not exactly sure if the body part in question belongs to a rat or some sort of amphibious creature. Johnston subsequently filed a lawsuit against CCM (the brewer) FEMSA (the brewer's parent company), Heineken USA (the importer), The Big Store (the retailer) and others, in Galveston County District Court.
According to the lawsuit, as summarized by the Galveston Daily News, Johnston was innocently trying to enjoy a day at Crystal Beach on March 21 when "he felt a weight shift as he tilted the can, and he felt something prickly on his tongue. His gag reflexes then induced vomiting."
Johnston and his wife rushed to a nearby hospital, concerned he may have been poisoned. Fortunately, the prickly suspect appeared to be non-toxic. Still, Johnston was traumatized by this event and sought treatment, the lawsuit claims. But Johnston's attorney, Roy Elizondo III, tells Hair Balls Johnston only sued as a last resort, after he sought an explanation from the brewer and distributor, only to be ignored.
"It's the fact that they're choosing to not even recognize the situation that has forced us to file a lawsuit," Elizondo says.
The allegedly tainted beer currently resides in Johnston's freezer, waiting for someone to poke and prod the remnants of whatever creature is inside. Apparently, no one bothered to remove the mystery part and take a photograph. Elizondo believes it's most likely a rat, but Hair Balls wouldn't rule out a baby chupacabra toe at this point.
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"That's one of the major primary concerns of brewing factories, is that rodents will get in there, because rodents -- moreso than any other animal on the planet -- are very attracted to the hops," Elizondo says, apparently ignoring the fact that the animals most attracted to hops are in fact NASCAR fans.
A spokesperson for Heineken USA could not comment directly on the suit, but stated in an e-mail that "we stand behind the quality of our products and those we distribute. CCM is a world-renowned brewer with the highest standards for safety and quality, and they work to ensure that they meet or exceed the health and safety regulations outlined by the respective industry and government bodies."
But Elizondo says Johnston's experience may suggest otherwise: "These people make tons of money, and you would think they would at least have some type of guidelines [and restrictions] on their manufacturing that would prevent this type of situation from happening. But the only way to figure out what's actually going on is to file a lawsuit, because I want to find out how many times this actually happens, and it's never reported to the public or a lawsuit isn't filed."
We just hope that, one day, Johnston's shattered faith in beer will be restored.