In a move that has attracted negative reaction in the craft beer world, AB InBev has reportedly bought a minority investment in the longstanding brew-review website RateBeer.com.
According to an article posted by GoodBeerHunting.com, the deal actually closed in October of 2016. AB InBev did not publicly reveal the deal until GoodBeerHunting contacted them about it. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In response, RateBeer recently announced the partial sale to ZX Ventures, AB InBev’s growth division. Website founder Joe Tucker wrote:
“One of the greatest challenges I’ve had in choosing this magical life for myself as a developer of an online community has been the monstrous amount of work I’d signed on to, and that the site required, day and night, every day of the year. As the site’s only full time employee, this has meant I’ve always been on call . . . It’s with relief and gratitude that the site has finally received the resources and infrastructure it needs to move forward and develop for the coming technical challenges and opportunities.”
Some craft beer brands have requested any mention of their products, including reviews, be pulled from RateBeer.com. Including Dogfish Head. In a blog post, brewery founder Sam Calagione recently wrote:
“We believe this is a direct violation of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics and a blatant conflict of interest . . . It just doesn’t seem right for a brewer of any kind to be in a position to potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform. It is our opinion that this initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack of transparency is troubling.”
In his post on RateBeer.com, Tucker addressed some of these concerns: “ZX Ventures has the utmost respect for the integrity of the data and the unbiased service we offer to the entire community and industry.”