Thursday, May 06, 2010

Free goods

Yesterday, I overheared this recounting at a bar: "As she left, she told us in a loud voice that she was a restaurant blogger."

I was reminded of a recent post by British beer author/blogger Pete Brown. He was writing about the boorish behaviour of a certain group of beer drinkers, when he wrote this:

But I have never - in my life - walked into any pub and either demanded or expected a free or discounted drink because of who I am, or what I do. If I did, I would expect and deserve to be called a complete and utter fucking twat by anyone who witnessed it.

In my 20+ year career in the beer (and restaurant) business, I have watched as customers and managers and salespersons and reviewers have harangued others for free goods. A free drink, a free meal, a free keychain, and often more substantial.

The business may have been more 'cut-throat' in the bad old days, but never would these good folk today think their actions boorish at best or tantamount to soliciting a bribe at worst. Oh, banish the thought! It's ethics, Mr. Beer Writer and Ms. Beer Customer. It's ethics, Mr. Beer Salesman and Ms. Restaurant Manager.

And plain old civil manners.

  • Caveat lector: I sell beer and wine in northern Virginia.
  • Be sure to read the comments to this post.


  1. Have I ever begged for "free"? I really hope not. I have been offered samples and asked for them as well. But from the distributor so I figure this is part of the PR budget. But being in a pub or restaurant and demanding discount or free? I am not sure where on the continuum between rube and arsehole that would place me but I am sure that it would be somewhere in there.

    A Good Beer Blog

  2. My reply:

  3. Also, in a related theme, see today's "Pearls Before Swine" comic:

  4. Yeah, you're right, disgusting behaviour. Samples - not really the same as demanding free food just co you managed to get a free blogging account.

  5. The ability to publish (with or without real credentials) is empowering. It even sometimes gets us things we normally wouldn't get in "real life." However, uttering the phase you overheard in any way that isn't clearly facetious is shameful.

  6. A thoughtful response from Martin Wooster, a writer for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News:

    Well, my rules are:

    * I do accept free dinners but I have always written about the dinners I accept. I only ask to be comped for dinners I think have news value (i.e. you're bringing in a brewer from Lower Slobbovia).

    * I of course accept review copies of books I'm reviewing.

    * I pay for EVERYTHING that I'm not reviewing. And I've never begged any brewer/publican/beer store owner for freebies. That's not professional--and I may be weird, but I am professional.

    The Pete Brown story is a bit more ambiguous. If CAMRA negotiates discounts with pubs they should honor them. But these railfans give CAMRA a bad name and Brown is right to critique their boorishness.


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