Good Beer Hunting – Through its so-called “global disruptive growth group” ZX Ventures, Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired a minority stake in RateBeer, one of the most popular and reputable beer ratings and resource websites in the world.
So I’ve been traveling, but didn’t want to ignore this at all. I wanted to let it simmer around in my brain a bit, collect my thoughts, and not just put down a knee-jerk reaction to the news. Here’s my take:
AB-InBev is a corporate scumbag of a company. We all know and understand that. They’ve made acquisitions into craft beer companies, monopolize the South Africa hops market, and now announced an investment in RateBeer, and this is all within the last month or so. Just a wild month for them ripping into the craft world. They are clearly playing chess, slowly manipulating the board. It seems lately they are on the offensive.
I am finding out slowly how big corporations work at a young age. They get cube monkeys like myself to do a bunch of work for little pay, the bonuses go to the big fish, the praise for the acquisition goes to the CEO while all the people who made it happen maybe get an email, no bonus or raise or promotion. The fact that they have a venture company on the side to probably write off taxes under Research and Development is wild. If their investments pay off, they make money, if they don’t write it off as a loss. That is millions coming off the books people!
So now that I’ve bashed AB-InBev a bit, let’s talk actual facts and opinions. Rate Beer is an extremely reputable company for rating the beers from the 5,000+ breweries in the United States and the even larger global number. It allows users an unbiased and free of repercussion way to analyze, promote, rate, and comment on beers they’ve had or want to have. See beers others are trying. I’m more of an Untappd user at the moment personally, but nothing against Rate Beer, just tough to keep up two places. Untappd was what I first downloaded.
Now, AB-InBev is really cutting into the craft market. They now have enough skin in the game with Rate Beer to data mine. Yes, that is an IT word. Yes, 99.99% of your craft breweries you love do not do this, and yes 100% should. There are troves of data now available to AB-InBev. Do lagers sell more in the summer than IPA’s? How were the sales of Pumpkin beer last October? A lot of mosaic hopped beers are trending right now. Chicago beers don’t do so hot in the Washington D.C. market. This person drinks a lot, we should market to them. Do you see where I am going with this? That is all in a database with Rate Beer. It is easy to sift through a database. There are code functions, but imagine just Excel documents and doing Pivot Tables and using CTRL+F and charts. Scary right? Now, the largest company in beer has endless amounts of data at their disposal to do predictive metrics, acquire more craft companies, and know what we as a community are praising and critiquing.
Now, AB-InBev has skin in the game with craft breweries (selling you the beer), an entire hops market (selling hops to breweries), and the way we rate and talk about beer (community at large). How do we stop these guys?