The Real Reason Why RateBev is Terrible

This weekend Good Beer Hunting broke the news that an AB Inbev owned investment firm has bought a stake in popular beer ratings website, Ratebeer.

This led to a #Hopinions poll by my friends at Beer O'Clock show asking whether it's a good or bad thing. Here is the poll and my response:

Now I thought long and hard about this after I tweeted it and realised that it's a terrible thing; not for the industry but for the people within the beer community.

The Irrelevant Reason

There was a lot flying around on twitter about how AB InBev will now have access to all of this big data and market insights which is a bad thing, but it's not. They already had access to it. Everyone did. Anyone can harvest data from Ratebeer to tell you what the most popular beers are in a given region. Besides, how would ABI use the data? Sure, they've bought craft breweries but craft brewers don't need to be told what's popular. The data side of things is irrelevant.

The Real Reason

What is relevant, however, is the fact that the knowledge of this buyout could destroy a whole community of tens of thousands of people across the world.

It's not secret that I'm not a fan of Ratebeer - in fact I regularly refer to it as "hatebeer" - but I am a fan of the sense of community that craft beer has.

See, Ratebeer has thousands of subscribers from all over the world that share one common interest... craft beer. Although it's actually not strictly true that they only have one common interest because the second is that they hate big conglomerates like AB InBev.

Just look through the Ratebeer forums every time a AB Inbev or some other conglomerate buys a craft brewery and you'll see hundreds of posts showing outrage; cries of boycotting said breweries, and photos & videos of angry beer geeks drain pouring $25 bottles of beer because they can taste the corporate structure.

Now I've not looked at the Ratebeer forum since this announcement but I'd bet my last 50p that there are many angry people on there; people looking for a way out; somewhere else to go and trade beers; somewhere to continue being a part of that community, and I doubt I can see them all flocking to Ratebeer's biggest rival, Beer Advocate.

Sure they could all go to Reddit, or they could keep in touch via strings of emails or WhatsApp groups but it's not the same. It was one of the only surviving forums when forums all but died.

Where will they go now that they know the evil eyes of AB InBev are on them, stealing their thoughts, because you can't wear a tinfoil hat on the internet.

The Ratebeer community could potentially be destroyed and this really isn't good for the beer community.


An Opportunity That Can't Be Missed

If I were the owner of Untappd, I would be rubbing my hands with glee, thinking of all of the potential new subscribers I could potentially get. Historically, Ratebeer and Untappd are worlds apart as Untappd users generally don't take everything quite so seriously but this could change.

Sure, right now you can toast and comment on checkins; you can rate them and split the format you had them in but if I were the owner of Untappd I would be paying my app developers to work overtime, throughout the night working on a forum that former, disgusted Ratebeer users could flock to, to share beer and rage at the next buyout.

This could be a massive and wise move for Untappd. It doesn't have to be the end of this whole community. Just a migration.



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