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.