As you know, we don’t often use our blog to make statements about the business of beer. To us beer is meant to be fun, so we pretty much keep the “business” part out of it. But beer IS our business. And there are times that we feel it’s important to address some of the things that transpire within our industry – and take a stand. This is one of those times.
This past Friday, a beer news website posted an article about Anheuser Busch’s minority investment - via ZX ventures, owned by ABI - in a beer rating site called Ratebeer.com. Ratebeer.com is a popular user-generated beer review and rating site, and includes several of Harpoon and UFO beers. Some if not many of you may be familiar with it. We are concerned about this development on several levels, not the least of which is that it represents a significant conflict of interest within our industry. What’s more, the lack of transparency surrounding the investment was troubling, to say the least.
What’s really at stake here? Independence and pure entrepreneurism. As an employee owned brewery, our independence and entrepreneurial creativity are what make us who we are. We will always fight to protect that, and will stand with others like us in the craft community who feel just a strongly as we do. Our beer comes from a place of passion and community, and from a place of fandom. We believe that craft beer drinkers like us, and like you, should be able to rate and review beers we love without worrying about any possible compromise or outside influence — not least from the industry’s dominant player. To boot, a player that didn’t see fit to disclose its involvement.
Our friend, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, eloquently put into words feelings that we share. Like Sam and others, we have reached out to Ratebeer.com and have asked that Harpoon and UFO beers be removed from ratebeer.com immediately.
We, the employee owners of Harpoon, are proud of the way we run our business – the quality of our beer, the way we market our beer, the festivals we throw to celebrate it, the friends we make because of it, and the community, transparency, integrity and independence that the craft movement has always been about and that we proudly stand with.
Cheers to independent brewing!