This was inspired by a piece by Mark Johnson. A young man more eloquent than I – with an exceptional line in entertaining tourettic outbursts. Read that here.
Every week it would seem that there is a question / survey on Facebook or Twitter about the “etiquette” around beer blogging. And I have to confess, it’s a subject that puzzles me hugely.
Whilst hardly a “veteran” in this sphere – certainly compared with the likes of Boak & Bailey / Tandleman / Melissa Cole et al – I’ve been doing this long enough to have an opinion. However, I wasn’t always so confident.
When I started back in 2012, my MO was really simple. To highlight the good stuff. I got fed up with hearing about some of the crap people were complaining about drinking. My thing was to say “Here’s the good stuff”. I avoided outright and public negativity. But, worried that I was being a touch cowardly, I needed validation.
That came when I read a piece by Boak & Bailey. In that piece, they said something along the lines of that they didn’t openly negatively criticise a new brewery’s beers. They had a quiet word if there was an issue. To do other could do damage to a new business. (I may have got that slightly wrong with memory, but it was there or thereabouts.)
I felt – as I said – vindicated. I wasn’t a coward after all.
For me, there are too many keyboard warriors whacking utter shite onto apps like Untappd. An app I don’t use. I think I may have commented previously about having the same beer, in the same location, at the same time as another drinker who said that it was “shit” on Untappd. That drinker was wrong. It was sharp and delicious. The comment was lazy. (A bit “off piste” – sorry.)
Back to the subject matter at hand!
One evening, the subject of “disclosure” came up. If you got the beer for free, do you disclose this? To which, my answer was YES. Always. If anybody is going to respect your opinions, honesty and openness is essential. I mean, initially, some of my disclosure was (possibly) subliminal. But now, the statement is upfront. “I got this from the brewer direct” or “I was given this by the brewer to try”
There. That isn’t too difficult now. Is it?
My attitude is simple. If I enjoy it enough – if it moves me enough to open up Evernote – I’ll review it. If I actively dislike a beer, for whatever reason, I speak to the brewer directly. Sometimes they don’t agree, but that opinion is honestly given. And, mostly accepted as such.
Around the same time, I stumbled across a conversation in one of the many beery Facebook groups of which I’m a member. This one was a bit…. different. This was about the etiquette of asking breweries for beer.
Eh? Come again? People actually DO this?
And when I saw one of the comments along the lines of “Well. If they don’t, they’re missing out on X number of views……”
(“Disclosure ” – I do blag. But only for ISBF. And that’s to raise money for a good cause, so my conscience is salved!)
Don’t get me wrong here. I do get sent beer now and again. And the “rules” are the same if it’s a new Pico or a major Micro. If I like it, I’ll review it. If not, I’ll tell you personally. And that seems to work fine.
Like many bloggers that I know, pay for the VAST majority of the beer I consume, this hobby can be damned expensive! But I like it this way.
I also get invited to Trade Sessions and the like. And I go – to some. Because, most of the time, I just can’t be arsed with the (mostly) expected trade off. And that includes some of the biggies.
No conflict of interest. No issues of conscience. No bullshit.
This shit is really simple. Innit?