Smaller craft brewers worry about ‘David and Goliath’ situation

NEW YORK — Some craft brewers are worrying the playing field has shifted.

The same company that owns beer giant Budweiser recently bought a portion of popular beer review website RateBeer.com.

Many smaller breweries depend on the site to measure the marketability of their products, promoting new items and events, and reaching out to potential new customers.

According to the New York Times, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, revealed that ZX Ventures, an incubator it operates, purchased a minority stake in RateBeer.com.

Many companies are asking RateBeer to remove the reviews and ratings of their beers from its website.

Concerns range from whether individual ratings will be independent to favoritism when it comes to placement of reviews on the site to the lack of transparency about the deal.

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in December found 82 percent of adults read online customer ratings and reviews before buying.

Competitors also worry ABI could potentially have access to customer data, which could give it a competitive advantage.

Smaller companies also might have a hard time forcing RateBeer to remove the reviews until they can prove they are hurting their business.