THE BEER BEAT: On inauthenticity, disinformation, RateBeer and those disembodied breweries of the Trojan Zombie Afterlife.


Today, recommended reading.

Jim Vorel’s essay appeared in mid-2017, and nicely outlines a position of beer-drinking principle when it comes those breweries in the Trojan Zombie Afterlife Quadrant.

The BS Arguments of Craft Beer Sell-Outs: How Brewery Buyouts Hurt Craft Beer, by Jim Vorel (Paste Magazine)

Let me tell you who I care about, in the world of beer: I care about the craft beer industry as a whole. I care about selection and availability of great craft beer, and at night I dream of a world where great beer from independent breweries can be accessed just about anywhere.

That dream is currently under attack, primarily by so-called “Big Beer,” but not entirely. For all of the wrangling and shady dealing that AB-InBev and MillerCoors are conducting in the American beer market, equally disturbing is the propensity of beer geeks and even food & drink publications to rationalize and apologize for the buyouts and practices that are currently driving craft beer into the most dangerous situation it’s faced in more than a decade. In some cases, would-be allies are willingly parroting back the exact marketing copy that AB-InBev would love to place in their mouths. Other times, beer drinkers are simply accepting the bullshit reassurances of just-purchased breweries who have huge monetary incentives to be dishonest.

But don’t take our word for it. We’re not here to simply rant and rave—we’re here to give you specific examples of BS rationalizations you’ll see in the wake of every major brewery buyout. We’re here to point out the logical chasms and blatant hypocrisy that proliferate in the public response to buyouts. And we’re here to point out exactly why these buyouts are so capable of devastating the craft brewing industry.

More recently, Fritz Hahn brilliantly connects the dots between AB-InBev, ZX Ventures and RateBeer.

The world’s biggest brewing company is thirsty for your data, by Fritz Hahn (Washington Post)

Anheuser-Busch InBev is the biggest brewing company in the world, but it has a problem it can’t shake …

… But as sales of hoppy IPAs continue to surge, and sales of Light (and Lite) macrobrews continue to drop, AB InBev is recalibrating its approach. Rather than buying up as many craft-beer producers as it can, it’s using its vast resources to buy data — tons of it — through a little-known division called ZX Ventures.

“So where are the growth opportunities?”

That’s where ZX Ventures comes in. According to its mission statement, “ZX Ventures is hopelessly dedicated to creating and analyzing the data necessary for determining our ideal strategies, products and technologies. We believe that the more we know and learn about our consumers and products, the better chance we have of anticipating their needs in the future.”

Translation: They want to know everything about purchasing patterns and decisions. What are customers looking for? What are influencers thinking? How can they make it easier to get AB InBev’s products into the hands of people who might want beer?

ZX Ventures’ broad portfolio includes last year’s purchase of Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply and Midwest Supplies, two of the largest home-brewing businesses in the country. It also has a minority stake in PicoBrew, the countertop home-brewing system that uses Keuriglike “PicoPacks” to make beer in a certain style or mimic the recipe of an existing brand.

In October 2016, ZX Ventures purchased a minority interest in RateBeer, a 17-year-old international beer-rating site that has grown to become one of the largest online databases of crowdsourced beer, brewery and bar rankings in the world. But neither RateBeer nor ZX Ventures publicized the deal until June 2017, when beer website Good Beer Hunting published a story about the move. ZX Ventures did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

Because it’s all about the information, and RateBeer is like a homing device fixed to the throats of the “craft” beer sheeple.

If e-commerce is off the table, then the most important way for AB InBev to make money in an increasingly crowded marketplace is to get the right beer in front of the right customers at the right time. And right now, the world’s biggest brewer is tapping into a steady flow of data that can help it do just that.

If Trump were to consider deporting counter-revolutionary swine like these, I might consider voting for him.

ZX Ventures is a global incubator, operator, and venture capital team backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev. We are a small army of futurists, dreamers, doers, designers, engineers, scientists, marketers, brewers, builders, and data geeks.

Our goal is to make products, services, and technologies that bring people together and provide solutions for consumer needs. We want to positively impact society and our environment and celebrate the best this life has to offer. We’re not afraid to break the mold of tradition, including launching businesses that sell directly to our customer-base. Yes, our aim is to generate profits, but those won’t come without first creating smiles, laughs and making the world a better place through innovative products, technologies, experiences and services. The more positive connections we facilitate, the more we learn about our consumers and products, and the better chance we have of anticipating their needs in the future.We truly believe that the consumer is the boss and constantly center our actions around what best fits their needs.

I’ll venture one prediction about the future, in the sense that “IPA” already is sucked dry of meaning and lost to those of a “craft” persuasion. Just as decades of mass-market insipidity rendered the style “Pilsner” moot, so will the supermarket aisle stacks of Trojan Zombie Afterlife “IPAs” commoditize the concept.

Not a bold prediction, just an obvious one.