There are today a bajillion breweries out there -not really, but you know what I mean- and they all want to get their product noticed. To that end, breweries give out samples, schwag, and invitations to the media. It’s a completely normal and typical part of the landscape.
What are my rules regarding this?
If a brewery offers to send me a sample, I will accept it, and I will drink any beer/cider/mead that a brewery sends me. I don’t promise that I’ll write about it, nor that I will write about it favorably. I do promise that if write about it, I will give an unbiased, honest opinion.
Much the same goes for events. I will accept comped invitations to events as my calendar permits, and the same promises hold.
This way the brewer or event organizer gets their product/venue/event in front of me, and gets to educate me about it. That’s all. In turn, I get to experience it and to gain a deeper understanding of it. Should I write about it, I will endeavor to pass that knowledge on to the reader.
When I write about a beer or event that I have been comped, I will disclose that.
Can the fact that I’ve gotten a freebie influence me? Perhaps. I like to think that I maintain my objectivity pretty well but by my disclosing the freebies, you, as the reader, get to be the judge of that.