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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Reads

In addition to the fire-hose of beer news--remarkable for a January--there's quite a bit happening in the blogosphere as well. I have been lax in addressing this surfeit of writing, but will endeavor to rectify that now.

1. Goodbye Jason, Hello Nicole
We're losing a blogger--Jason over at Portland Beer and Music. For those who haunt the fests, we'll be losing more: a fun, amiable presence as reliable as December rain. He's decided to return to Texas to be closer to family. Now we know why he was getting rid of all his CDs. But, despite the loss of a great blogger, we will apparently not be losing a blog:
As a result, I am excited to announce that I will be leaving the blog in the trusted and capable hands of Nicole. I knew I had made the right decision when I learned the depth of Nicole's (and her husband Paul's) passion for craft brewing. On top of that, she knows many people in the Portland craft beer industry and is ever present at most beer events. Nicole has been interested in craft beer for over 10 years, including judging home brewing competitions. Living in New York and Vermont further fueled her passion for good beer. Nicole and her husband moved to Portland to take advantage of the excellent beer and food culture and opportunities offered here.
By way of introduction, she has an excellent piece on the life of a working brewer--in this case, Casey Lyons at Lucky Lab. If she's able to continue in this vein, we may be able to survive Jason's departure. Seriously, very good stuff. Go have a read.

2. Ted Goes Big
I recently saw Sobel strolling downtown with a girl on each arm, flashing a lot of bling and handing out Bens like they were Scientology fliers. Now it all makes sense:
Eagerly, I tallied up the production numbers for the four quarters of 2010, and am delighted to declare that we have busted the 100 BBL mark. For 2009 we only cranked out 92.07 BBL. 2010 witnessed a staggering production of 104.64 BBL, an increase of 14%. Cask ale is on the rise.
Excellent news! Ted's shooting for 200 barrels in 2011, and to that I say, Godspeed. Spread the gospel of cask, Mr. Sobel!

3. Britain's Ever Rising Beer Taxes
Pete Brown has an important report on the British government's plans to hike the already-high taxes on beer. (Their economy is in worse shape than ours.) So:
As the budget approaches, the beer industry is bracing itself for yet another duty increase. Duty on beer increased by 26% between 2009 and 2010, and is due to carry on increasing. The Tories have committed themselves to sticking with Alastair Darling's policy of increasing duty on beer by 2% more than the rate of inflation. Which means that this year, just a couple of months after a 2.5% VAT increase, we look set for an increase of 5.7%.
That's the nut of the piece, but I encourage you to click through and read the whole thing.

4. Beer Lottery?
My new favorite East Coast beer, Portsmouth, is doing something I'm not sure I'm happy about. The Beer Babe, Carla Companion, has the details:
Starting around – and I say around because the facebook page for the brewery just reminded everyone that there’s no firm date – January 24th, the brewery will be selling custom-printed scratch tickets that offer a chance to buy a bottle of Kate [the Great] for $2 each. Now, before you bristle about the brewery capitalizing on demand and making their own lottery, you have to hear part 2 of the plan. They’re going to take all the sales from the chance tickets and give it to a local charity.
Kate the Great is, along with Three Floyds Dark Lord and a few others, one of the hottest properties in the beer world. Portsmouth will sell 10,000 tickets and of these, 900 are "winners." The winning tickets, of course, just allow you the opportunity to buy the beer at the full price. So in a decidedly coercive way, the brewery is raising $20,000 from its most loyal fans--90% of whom don't even end up with the beer. Donating money to worthy nonprofits is admirable; holding your customers hostage to do so is ... not charitable.



  1. Do you think Portsmouth will actually sell 10,000 tickets? I could see a little customer blowback on this. Mainly because the odds are poor.

    Of course some people may really be that greedy for a hyped-up beer. That might actually be an interesting topic for some of the retailers. Do you see a subculture of beer greed within the beer geek crowd?

  2. Quite an interesting concept from Portsmouth, more incentive to get ahold of good beer, but also break deeper into the community and generate appreciation and respect on the local scale, which is always a good thing...In that way everyone is donating to charity, though perhhaps for alternative reasons..

  3. I'm counting on the bulk of the additional 100 BBLs to come from the sale of my new series of alcopops to be released in March. It is targeted at 21 to 27 year olds that grew up in a culture that eschewed vegetables. Watch for Broccoli Sizzle, Take a Leek, and Brussels Sprout Bonanza inna can, 8% ABV and über-carbonated, on supermarket shelves near you.

  4. Re: Portsmouth

    I have a couple of thoughts on this. Having been to the releases in summer of 2008 and winter of 2009, I saw first-hand some of the explosion of this beer. Just some baseline facts:
    Winter 2008: Was available on-tap for over 2 weeks, with growler fills available the whole time, and bottles lasting more than a day.
    Summer 2008: Available on-tap for 2 days, with bottle allocations running out about 11 AM release day.
    Winter 2009: Available on-tap for ~5 hours, with bottle allocations running out about 9 AM release day.
    Winter 2010: Available on-tap for about as long as it takes to drain 5 barrels of beer through 2 taplines (about 4 hours I think), with bottle allocations running out about 4 AM release day (some people stayed until closing time and got in line the night before).
    I think that Portsmouth was worried about this trend, and also the lines of hundreds of people literally left out in the cold on release day the last couple years, even after the pub was full to capacity on release day. I think that the release of these tickets (you left out the fact that you can buy 15/person/day - enough that someone who drops $30 has a roughly 76% chance of getting a bottle assuming a random distribution) was a well-considered approach that will (hopefully) achieve a number of goals:
    1) Increase access for locals
    2) Raise some money for a local charity
    3) Decrease the day-of rush (winners have one calendar year to make their purchase)
    4) Cut down on people making long trips and being disappointed
    They're in the (admittedly desirable) awkward situation of having a situation that's really grown beyond them, and I think this is their best effort to try to make sure it's still an enjoyable day for all those involved.

  5. Here's a diagram I drew up regarding your chances to get a bottle of Kate the Great: