Brew Biz: Werts and All

The Topic: The Pour Fool was Right (In InBev’s name I curse.)

 Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been writing on beer-related topics and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for over 15 years.

Written by Ken Carman

 Early morning in my Eagle Bay cabin, another beautiful Adirondack day, now cursed by my mental state. Really? InBev feels the need to have its claws sunk into a site that rates beer; for some odd reason called RateBeer?
 In the last Fool column on this topic I felt Fool might be being a tad, well, foolish. InBev, unlike A/B, is a conglomerate of many distinct breweries and, unlike the Busch family, they might not feel so inclined as to ruin all those distinct brands just to bring back the mega beer crime families gory days of barely more than one style of cheap adjunct beer.
 Not the slightest bit “foolish” this time.
 InBev shouldn’t have any control over websites that rate beer. This is not a new topic to me, and a firm principle. When the brewer for a brewpub in Nashville wanted to become head of communications for Music City Brewers: a homebrew club, I objected in strong terms to the president. I made an enemy of the brewer, I’m sure, but I don’t care. It’s the principle: the head brewer at one brewery in town shouldn’t be given any control over whom we communicate with, or not. There were, and are, many other breweries in town. If people wanted to say something in print that did not reflect well on his brews they should be able to say that without worrying that the Communications person might stifle them. If the club wants to have meeting at another brewery instead of his there shouldn’t even be the slightest possibility that communications regarding this would be limited in any way; or the perception it had been limited. And I was writing a column for the newsletter, and one local magazine, that, in part, critiqued breweries and what was on tap, or bottle, or can.
 Likewise a site that rates beer shouldn’t even have a whiff of the possibility of influence from the very company whose beers may be being rated.
 This is just common sense, I would think, though I’m sure there are others who will claim, like brewers at Wicked Weed, that they have a very supportive, yet hands off, policy. My only response to that would be…
      

For now.

 This isn’t just me. Communications was part of my major in college and this was a basic principle; one we kept fighting for because the ever anal, control freak, nature of administration at Plattsburgh at the time tried to interfere with bloody near everything. Once I was assigned to write something on the financial aid office, if I remember the department right. And the lady who I interviewed demanded she basically write it: I was to keep bringing it back to her and she would rephrase what I wrote in a more positive light, politically correct phrasing. I eventually just submitted it and my editor commented when I complained, “That’s why you never let them control content.” Once published the administration raised hell, but our adviser and my editor stood strong.
 Years later I got my annual call to donate to the college. The student body had just elected a president administration didn’t like, so they replaced him with someone they did. I told the caller, “I see not much has changed.” She chuckled.
 What other rational reason can InBev have to control a beer critiquing site than to want to control content.
 You cannot have those you might be critiquing control what you write.

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   Brew Biz : Werts and All,` is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing, and commenting on, beer-related topics including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the brew business, and discussions regarding all things beer.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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