business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that the decision by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, to purchase a minority stake in the popular beer review website, RateBeer, has created concerns in the craft beer community, where entrepreneurs feel that the the formerly "objective, consumer-driven" site now has an enormous conflict of interest.

The concerns range "from whether individual ratings will truly be independent, to the potential for favoritism in the placement of reviews on the site, to the lack of transparency about the deal, which was consummated in October but was only recently made public."

Two brewers - Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, NY, and Dogfish Head in Delaware, have asked that RateBeer remove "the reviews and ratings of their beers from its website," the Times writes. "As of Friday, RateBeer had not complied."

ZX Ventures, majority owner of RateBeer, concedes that it should have been more transparent about the investment, but pledges that it will remain independent of A-B's influence.
KC's View:
There's probably not much that craft brewers can do about the ratings and reviews; there are lots of companies that, for a variety of reasons, would prefer that they not be reviewed in the media ... but the media has no responsibility to comply with those wishes.

That said, I think that ZX Ventures was completely in the wrong about accepting the investment and then not publicizing it. As a consumer, I would no longer trust anything it says.