Friday, February 5, 2010

Mommy Bloggers: The Awful Truth about " beer bloggers" who beg for "samples".

There will be no begging for beer on this blog. Every beer, brewery, bar, beer festival, event, or beer related item reviewed on this blog has been bought and paid for by yours truly. I do not, nor will I ever solicit breweries for "free" samples. As someone who believes in true support of local craft breweries, I can support a brewery by promoting their product, and give them real support by actually purchasing their products.

Beer blogs are rife with "beer experts", "beer writers", "beer pundits" "beer geeks"  or "amateur connoisseurs" looking for free hand outs. It is a disgusting practice. It makes these people shameless whores in my opinion. What many of these "beer experts" don't want you to know is? In actuality they are nothing more than what is known as "mommy bloggers."

What is a "Mommy Blogger"?

The name came about because the overwhelming majority of bloggers in the U.S. that review products and services, have traditionally been stay at home mothers, Many  bloggers are unemployed, or do not hold traditional 9 to 5 jobs.

In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published guidelines dealing with mommy blogging:

These guidelines changed the game for mommy bloggers. When you start seeing beer blogs or beer websites reviews that in the past never mentioned where the sample came from? If that person is now having to state it was indeed a "free" sample? If that person is now stating if they got a free trip, a free meal, or free merchandise? Odds are you just met a mommy blogger.  I once saw a "video beer review" by a beer reviewer who with a wink and nudge in the review, wanted the brewery to send a "free" beer glass after they already had send "free" samples.
How can anyone be fair and objective about a product, when the producer of said product is giving you the product for free, or a free trip to their brewery? It makes the review at the very least suspect. What is motivating the promotion of this product? True love of it, or the fact it cost you nothing to review it?
There has been an alarming trend in the last few years and one that pretty shady, when you get down to the bare bones of it. I am seeing more and more "video beer reviews" on Youtube.

Let me spell this out to the would be beertuber. Breweries are companies in the business of selling a product and making money. There is a reason they are so willing to send "samples" to you, and its not out of the goodness of their hearts. Your video beer review is for a brewer, a very cheap form of advertising. If all they need to do to get word of mouth sales about their product is ship you a few free samples? That is money in the bank for the company. You are becoming a mouthpiece for that company. That is all well and good. Just say so, and don't pretend that you are giving an honest, objective opinion.

This practice has become problematic in my opinion. Honest, objective opinion seems to be vanishing in many of these beer reviews. The whole point of a review is that it is an independent opinion. How can a reviewer remain objective and independent if a brewery is sending a sample and is expecting a very favorable review? I have seen far too many examples where the  beer blogger and beertuber gives nothing but glowing reviews to a sample the brewery sent them for free. I've seen far to many beer bloggers and  beertubers openly solicit samples from breweries. The beer blogger and beertuber would have you believe "not me, the free sample does not influence my opinion." Please.

Breweries are using these beer bloggers and beertubers to promote their product.  At least now the mommy bloggers can't fake it. Oh, they can try when they are exposed for what they are, and the manufacture of the product is called on wanting favorable reviews for their "free" samples. The manufacture will even go so far and take a "hit" and give credit for an "honest" review. The mommy blogger will pan one or two of the six or seven products they were given for free. Sadly the manufacturer (in this case a brewery) is part of the mommy blogging scam. I guess they figure beer bloggers and beertubers are some sort of credible source (mileage will vary)  and will even go so far as to censor someone who is pointing out a mommy blog review of a product. Clearly there is a conflict of interest here, and these reviews are pretty worthless. 

When you see mommy bloggers putting up their little disclaimer, you know they are pretty much bought and paid for. Or at the very least, the beer they are drinking was. Kind of makes you think. It might seem crazy but how about actually go out and pay for their beer?


  1. Have to agree here. Brewers expect something in return for free product, and that is a positive review. It is hard for the reviewer to be objective when the product wasn't paid for; the thought that the gravy train might be derailed by a negative review must always be considered.

    Certainly, too, I've reviewed many a beer I enjoyed, but had to downgrade because it was overpriced. How can that be factored in if the beer was received free?

    Restaurant reviewers have historically remained anonymous for just this reason. They should not be treated any differently than other patrons, and I expect beer reviewers should be held to the same standard.

  2. Exactly. It is guys like you, me, and thousands of other beer lovers, who actually go out and support these breweries, and brewpubs with our hard earned dollars that makes these places successful. Not some mommy blogger who want to shake them down for freebies. Don't get me wrong. I think mommy bloggers with their beer websites and blogs have done alot to champion craft beer.

    But at the end of the day? It is the beer lover, not the "beer writer" "beer expert" "beer blogger" looking for the freebie, that supports these places and makes them grown, or fail for that matter. Mommy bloggers can write all they want. Unemployed beer geeks who beg for donations can hold all the fests, and have a site dedicated to beer all they want. If we, as paying consumers do not support breweries, then they will fail.

    That is lesson all too well known with a pico/micro brewery putting out world class beer. Beer geeks and beer bloggers can rave all they want how great their "free" sample was, but you have to actually go out and purchased the beer. The mommy bloggers of the beer world might not have made a small brewery fold, but they sure as hell did not help matters when they had their hands out looking for a free pint.

  3. I see one infamous mommy blogger, the queen of all mommy bloggers in the beer world, as started to put up "full disclosure" about "samples" and "press junkets."

  4. Personally as a bloke who works 72 hour weeks and a lover of ale I feel this entire comment is a bit misguided. I have a channel on Youtube which is a bit of fun and 95% bought and paid for. Recently I had a couple of emails from breweries saying they liked what I did and would I like some beers to review? I said yes. Not because I am a whore or will be bestowing false compliments upon their products, but because it is free beer. If they have watched my channel they will know I am no expert and very honest with my reviews.

    I do agree that some have taken it to an almost circus level in regards to emblazoning themselves in free clothing, hats, badges etc. and have already made their mind up on the beer before drinking it, but this is their choice and will reflect upon the viewers choice of watching their videos in the future.

    People who watch ale reviews are not knuckle draggers. They watch them to get an idea of what a product tastes like. If they try the product after seeing someone rave about it and it ends up tasting like the bottom of a septic tank then they will probably not bother watching them again.

    I'm off to read more of your blog now as I only just found it. Great stuff so far. Cheers.

  5. David you make very valid points here. I am by no means painting everyone with one broad stroke. As mentioned on FB, it comes down to integrity and honesty. Sadly, far too many bloggers and now Youtube video beer review types are looking for a hand out and will expect the "free sample" in exchange for a favorable review. I have been offered "samples" by breweries and have turned them down. I do not accept free samples for that very fact. I think the more free samples a reviewer takes, the easier if becomes to say good things about the product the manufactuer of the product just sent you. There are some pretty blatant examples of this, those are the whores I am talking about, and they know who they are. They have zero credibility in my opinion. You have given me reason to believe you are not one of them, so I can respect what you have to say. If I was curt and vulgar with you earlier I apoligize. I will not apoligize to Mr and Mrs Real Ale Guide or the Chadz Beer Reviews of the Youtube beer blog world. I think those types of beer reviewers are willing to say and do anything a brewery wants them too for free swag. Me? I'd rather pay for my pint and give an honest opinion. This is my school of thought on this. Clearly most of the people who are on the recieving end of "free" samples see it a different way.

  6. Interesting. If a brewery wants to send me free beer that is a-ok with me. I do warn them however that I will judge them honestly. I have a lot of local breweries sending me free t shirts all the time. Never once have I asked for one. It's free advertising for them. I understand your complaint but not everyone that receives free samples is corrupt. I know a lot of very respectable beer bloggers/writers that receive free samples all the time. I would never say the opinion of Lew Bryson or Stephen Beaumont aren't valid because they receive beer for free. Great blog by the way!


    The Beer Buddha