Is free beer really free?

I've been baron rating since 2009 and received a lot of beer from brewers who want their beer to receive a baron rating.

I've noticed in the past week or so that the topic of 'free beer' has cropped up time and time again, so Chris and I wanted to give our side of the story.

Is it's really free? Does free beer taste better?

Listen to what Chris and the Baron have to say about it

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Please listen to our audio rant about 'free beer' and comment below on what you think, I'm completely happy to receive both positive and negative comments, so consider it a chance to slap me round the face whilst I smile sweetly for the camera...

P.S. I think one of the key points is that if you receive beer for review, you should mention where it came from and thank the brewery for their hard work in getting it to you, shipping bottles is not cheap and a 'thank you' is the least you can do!


tabamatu said...

Full disclosure - I'm a blogger (although don't post many reviews of beers) who has received 'free' beer (on one occasion only).

I agree with the gist of this podcast, which is that if you receive 'free' beer and review/post, you should at least thank the brewer for sending it. Indeed, you should also disclose the fact you were sent it, if only to retain integrity but perhaps more importantly build reputation.

I've consumed a lot of content from blogs and youtube channels in the past year or two and the 'thank and disclose' approach isn't always followed. For me it damages the reputation of the poster, especially when the review is more positive than you'd expect based on your own experiences.

Real Ale in 140 said...

Spot on. There is the flipside to all of this I suppose...brewers may find the odd patsy who will give them short term exposure and a good review in exchange for 'free beer', but the good people of beer-land, as you said, will call them out on it eventually and that persons reputation will end up down the bog for some time. As I said in the blog, I've had the odd free beer but I've tried to be as honest as possible about each one - knowing that other bloggers/ploggers/vloggers may have made the same mistake you admitted to. Great podcast. Cheers.

Windsor & Eton Brewery said...

Breweries, whilst obviously wanting positive reviews etc, are wanting honest feedback more. Fake reveiws because of free beers are not helping the blogger or the breweries.

Anonymous said...

you are a pair of old ladies

Baron Orm said...

Nicely said Anon! ;)

I completely agree W&E, we are open and honest about what we think of the beers meaning that we don't always award a score that the brewer wants or is expecting.

I think any blogger or tweeter who simply sets out to get beer and gives them all great scores is going to be found out very quickly!

I think a 'thank you' is the least that a blogger should do if a brewer has taking the time and money to send the beers through.

I do them to both thank the brewer but also to point out that I received the beer without cost so that people can make up their own mind whether to respect my review or not.

Unknown said...

Aaaaargh I typed a massive comment but because I wasn't a member of this blogging thing it disappeared when I had to sign in with my G Mail account! BALLS!

Basically I wanted to say you hit the nail on the head in so many areas of thi 'free beer' thing and I applaud what yourself and others like Hopzine, Terry Kay and Simon Martin are doing as well as the hundreds of other bloggers, vloggers and talky ones.

I was a bit miffed over the subject you so delicately touched on because it was a blatant ponce, and knowing quite a few brewers now realise that people who just ask for free beer and not have anything to give back in return is a real kick in the face. These guys earn their living creating beer and selling it. It is a real honour to be sent something so when some nobody starts posting his spoils like trophies and then does a review which consists entirely of 'Not a bad drop.' then the red mist descends.

Keep up the good work chaps! Cheers!

David aka TUVAR (The Urban Viking Ale Review)

Baron Orm said...

Sorry that Blogger was being a complete PITA, it's happened to be in the past too!

Cheers for taking the time to listen, 15 minutes of us waffling on must have tested your patience!

The last thing you want to feel as a beer blogger is that all brewers think you are only out for some freebies without any care for their product or time and effort.

I've been sent beer without asking and I've been sent beer that I've asked to review. The thing I've always stuck by is to show what the brewer will get in return, as like we say in the audio, it's an exchange:

Their beer for your time and effort, and as long as you have a reputation and some kind of work to back it up then I think it's a fair swap (after all, I couldn't afford to buy all the beers that I review!)

Cheers for commenting and keep up the good work Urban Viking!

RedNev said...

I've never been offered free beer, which suits me as I'm not that kind of beer blogger. Besides, as I'm not very good at tasting notes, I wouldn't know what to write if some freebies did land on my doorstep. I can't see anything wrong with what you do, Baron, as it's clear how you got the beer and whether you paid for it. Anybody who objects to that is being precious in the extreme and deserves to be laughed at.

Baron Orm said...

Cheers RedNev for the comment, I wanted to be clear that I do it to say thanks and be open and honest rather than rub people's noses in the fact that I got some 'free' beer.

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

Hi mate. My first post outside of my own blog. New blogger slogger.
I've been asked how much difference a free beer makes to reviews. Are we bought and paid for etc. I'd like to make a few points.
1) Most beers cost just coins. We put in hours and hours on each beer. Preparing and studying up on each beer and brewery, buying equipment, videoing, editing, uploading, updating websites, writing blogs etc, posting notes and links etc, answering comments, rooting out new news, emailing replies, arranging brewery tours, tastings etc. The list goes on and on ad nausium et infinitum. If you worked out a £ per hour pay rate, we'd be on less money than the worst third world disadvantaged workers.

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

2) Beers brewers send are often not easily available without your credit card details being on every computer in the land.
3) Many breweries only sell in their own in house shop and not online.

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

4) Brewers have realised the power of social media but don't have the time or inclination to benefit from it by themselves.

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

5) You can't always buy a single from one of the hundreds of breweries across the land. Instead you find many offered only in cases of 12s 24s etc of each brand. I've reviewed almost 500 beers (majority from my own pocket). To buy them by the case would have meant a review catalogue of 20 beers maybe instead of 500.

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

The bad side of this comes when you get chancers spamming every brewery about with false book deals and promises etc.
Even if their intensions are pure, they should test the waters via blogging and vlogging to see if people enjoy their writing and so gauge whether publishers would put up the big bucks needed to publish it.
Long rant. Phew puff puff wheeze.

Baron Orm said...

Wow that is a long rant and every point I completely agree with.

I'm going to have to get a few thank you posts lined up as there are a number of beers on their way to me for baron rating - I didn't request any of them and I'm very pleased to be receiving them.

On another note if you compare the cost of social media publicity compared to 'old media', sending out a few cases of ale to select beer bloggers compared to a magazine advert makes sense! They get way more google juice out of it, get their brand straight to the people who are seeking it out and save an absolute fortune in the process!

Beer Goggles Reviews said...

I also think that 1 view on a beer dedicated channel watch mostly by beer dedicated viewers, is worth 1000 uncaring glimpses on the side of a bus.
Also, mobile phone internet technology means people standing confused and bemused in a supermarket beer aisle can look up a beer that they like the label of, and get a bit more info from an impartial friend.
Also also, every advert claims that their beer is premium, and fantastic, and is the king of beers, and is probably the best in the world, and will get you laid etc etc etc to an extent that it's less of a label than a libel on the bottle.
Most of us guys tell it like it is. Shooting from the lip.

Simon said...

Wow top audio blog guys, really enjoyed that. Agree completely with you on your subject of free beer for us its work, good work happy work but work all the same, for the amount of coverage we now offer on the internet brewery's must now be considering "Is it worth paying to go in a newspaper" People find us because they are interested in beer and that has to be a huge plus for the brewery's. Cheers for the mention also.

Baron Orm said...

Simon, thanks for the comment, I'm not sure about not paying to go in a newspaper - I suppose that depends on the brewery and the target they want to reach but I think for smaller craft breweries then word of mouth (and therefore social media) is well worth the investment.

No problem about the mention, you've probably done more for beer this year than a 1000 audio reviews! Well done on getting the decent beer message out there and good luck in the future pushing the message even further! :)

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