There is inside baseball and then there is inside the dugout baseball. It is one thing to know that Golden Road is owned by SABInBev, it is another to know that SABInBev owns ZX Ventures, the so-called “global disruptive growth unit” which bought out a home brew supply company last year. And then you have inside the locker room baseball when you know that the same ZX Ventures is part of a team that is producing a new web series of stories (along with Beer Graphs, Conde Nast, Pitchfork and Good Beer Hunting) under the rather plain moniker of “October”.
That last name, GBH is one of the blogs that I read on a regular basis. They have great long form pieces with some eye-catching photography. They have done some revealing work on the behind the scenes of beer getting from brewery to glass. I have attended one of their Uppers & Downers coffee beer events at Intelligentsia Coffee.
Setting aside that having that many media cooks in the kitchen can cause problems, it is the smell of Bud Money that is causing the bigger stir. If a well-read craft beer fan looked over the website without any background, they would probably say that it looks and reads like Good Beer Hunting. But when you hear that it is partially funded by the Belgian Corn Water Overlords, it makes people suspicious.
(Add to that my somewhat cynical view that having so many media entities involved is supposed to deflect negative attention away from GBH to the other participants.)
That “You’ve Been Bought Out” suspicion inevitably leads to a minor skirmish in the comments section of blogs. Some of which is trolling and/or name calling and completely counter-productive to an actual discussion.
With that prologue done, here are my two cents on the matter. (‘cause I gots opinions to spare)
1. I would not have so grandly linked GBH to “October” (also would not have called it October). Keeping them separate would have given the cover needed to quell the shill tag. In that proud announcement they likened the duo to Grantland (GBH) and ESPN (“October”). They left out that ESPN bought out Grantland and it promptly started swirling the drain and is now kaput. A metaphorical wall between the two makes sense since they are looking for different eyeballs.
2. Stop acting surprised. Seriously. Any taint of ABInBev or Miller (to a lesser degree) or Heineken (to an even lesser, lesser degree) WILL be met with disdain and people leaving the building. No amount of wordsmithing will make you immune to it. Craft beer fans DO NOT LIKE Bud. As Sean Spicer so eloquently put it, Period. You can claim and have journalistic credibility. You can put out great articles. But any positive mention of Industrial beer or large companies in general will be met with skepticism at best.
I will keep reading Good Beer Hunting because I believe that the quality won’t go down. I may touch down on the “October” site but it will be with a cocked eye because I can’t shake the realization that ZX Ventures would not throw their hand in without getting something positive out of it.
Peel the Label is an occasional series where I opine about the big picture of craft beer and blogging without photos, videos or links.