There have been quite a few beers brewed with the input of bloggers and writers in the last few years. In the past, we’ll admit the idea has made us squirm: how can a writer, especially one who reviews, be objective about a brewer’s beers if they’ve entered into this most chummy of commercial (though not necessarily financial) arrangements?
It doesn’t help that there is very rarely any disclosure. A blogger/writer paying their own train fare and contributing their time for free is in a different position to one whose name has, in effect, been ‘licensed’ in exchange for a bundle of crisp notes, but how can we tell them apart if people don’t tell us in a footnote?
We can see what’s in it for both parties, even if no money changes hands. Breweries build links with people who are, or might become, influential, and get to promote an image of themselves as adventurous. Writers get experiences which they can turn into multiple columns or blog posts; increase their technical knowledge; and boost their credibility. Both sides get a little boost to their profile.
Plus — and someone will no doubt tell us we’re being naive — it seems to us everyone is having tremendous fun, and we like that.
Would we be more inclined to buy a beer because it had a blogger’s name on the pumpclip or label? No. In fact, in most cases, we’d probably quietly avoid it if others were on offer — why would we choose the bastard child of a PR stunt and an amateur’s dabbling over a ‘proper’ beer conceived and made the usual way?