Renowned beer ‘pub’ magnate in our midst

Local Tom Dalldorf: King of craft beers
Local Tom Dalldorf: King of craft beers
In a small town, people think they have the place all figured out: the politics, the businesses, who their neighbors are. We’re an insular bunch.

But here’s one I’ll bet many of you didn’t know: A highly respected publication dedicated to “craft” beers and its publisher — Tom Dalldorf — is based here in Nevada City.

Celebrator Beer News for craft beer fans — what Wine Spectator is for wine aficionados — just completed its 21st anniversary. The online version is at celebrator.com.

“You can pick up a copy of Celebrator at Cooper’s Ale Works. That’ my local,” he told me.

Dalldorf is a well know expert when it comes to craft beers.

As the Washington Post observed: “A former wine guy who jumped on the craft beer bandwagon in the early ’80s, Dalldorf knows the lay of the land.”

You often find Dalldorf quoted in the mainstream press when it comes to craft beers.

One of Tom’s fans is Jack, a regular reader of this blog.

Here’s an excerpt from Tom’s latest column:

“Wall Street is in shambles, banks are on life support, bankers have surpassed even lawyers and used-car salesmen as the most despised professionals in America.

“Credit is the new dust bowl, and the housing market is a disaster. Discretionary spending is indiscreet with China and Saudi Arabia holding our debt notes. What’s a beer lover to do?”

“Good beer (craft beer) sales continue to climb in the face of challenging economic times. Brewpubs report declining food tickets, but beer sales remain strong.

“Pubs and restaurants continue to see growth in craft beer sales. Some microbreweries struggle with difficult distribution issues, but many cite record sales.

“Is good beer really recession-proof? Is the mantra of beer as the “affordable luxury” really true? We think so.”

Good stuff. Wouldn’t this be a good story and blogger for The Union or other local media?

Bustling hotels mask ongoing recession

I’ve been out of town recently and notice the hotels are rather full and the lobbies are bustling, perhaps a sign that the recession is easing.

But if you dig deeper, you find out that even four-star hotels are selling many of their rooms at deeply discounted rates on the Internet — so they’re still being pounded on the revenue side. We’re frequent travelers, and we find the low rates almost unprecedented.

Examples:

• I spent several days in Chicago at the “Palmer House,” a historic hotel in the “Loop” now run by Hilton. The room was just $78 a night on Hotwire.com, compared with at least $250 a night otherwise.

I was upgraded to the “Club Level” as a Hilton club member, which includes breakfast, and the place also had a new indoor pool. It was an incredible bargain for a business traveler.

•We spent a night at the Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco for only $100 on Hotwire. Plus, we were upgraded to a room that looked out on the park, where our son likes to play. This particular room would normally go for more than $350 a night.

As with airlines, hotels figure that filling rooms at lower rates is better than not filling them at all because of fixed operating costs.

Hotel rates definitely got too high in the “go-go” days. But it’s sobering to know the “story behind the story” when it comes to hotels that seem to be humming along.

A new local blog to bookmark: ‘Sierra Voices’

A new local blog launched this week called ‘Sierra Voices.’ I was surprised to see no mention of it among the independent or media bloggers.

You can reach it through NCVoices.

Check out the new blog: The first post “No degrees of separation: Rural life and empowered citizenship” is a thoughtful one. It presents the pro and con of small-town life.

This is more along the lines of what I hope to read around here, in terms of the level of discourse.

Let’s be clear: The politics of the blog’s creator, Don Pelton, are left leaning. But whether people agree with his points or not, it is a thoughtful approach.

Pelton asks others to make submissions. The blog also includes a Google news feed, with some local news.

Here’s a part that will resonate with people: “We deplore and will not accept excessive rants, hyperbole, personal attacks and mean-spirited diatribes.”

I hope The Union reaches out to Don, as it has reached out to the right-wing bloggers George Rebane and Russ Steele, announcing a deal for them to write a monthly column and help advise the paper in building a more community-driven Web site.

You need to publish *both sides* of a debate.

Compare Pelton’s post with Rebane’s more mean-spirited, exaggerated item titled ‘A Socialist’s Latest Cutback.

The right needs more eloquent, persuasive local spokespeople. As we all know, the GOP is in a lot of trouble.

Let the debates begin!

Local ‘tea party’ protesters turn to Facebook

Local ‘tea party’ tax protesters are planning to march in the Fourth of July parade in Grass Valley, using Facebook to generate support.

They have formed a group on the social-networking site called “tea party patroits.” Sierra College board of trustee member Aaron Klein and Kimberly Pruett, a field representative for Congressman Tom McClintock, are among the members.

“Tea Party will be pulling together All Tea Party’ers to March with family and friends,” according to the post. “Bring signs and historical costumes for the Fourth of July parade in Grass Valley.”

The effort is being led by Chuck Shea, owner of the Parsonage B&B in Nevada City.

It’s another good example of turning to social networking sites to grow grassroots political support. Another example is here.

Trout ‘opener’ Saturday, with fewer planted fish

The much-anticipated Sierra trout opener is Saturday — but some lakes and rivers won’t get socked this year because of a legal dispute.

Saturday marks the opening of the Eastern Sierra general-trout fishing season, but it is viewed as the kick off of the trout fishing season. Expect snow on the ground at higher elevations, as usual.

Some of our better know locals will be out for the opener and fishing next week.

The season will be dampened by the economic slowdown but also the stocking of fewer fish.

A court order stemming from a 2006 lawsuit will prevent fish from being stocked in many lakes and rivers, including Scotts Flat, Bowman Reservoir, Spaulding Reservoir, Rollins Reservoir, Donner Lake, the North Fork of the Yuba and the Truckee River, among other places.

These are among the area’s most popular fishing holes that are subjected to the no-fish stocking lock-down.

It could hurt the summer tourism business, too, because many people come here to fish. Fishing is much slower when the fish aren’t stocked regularly. Just what we need on top of a deep recession.

The ban on stocking fish in many lakes and rivers — a common practice — stems from a November court order on a 2006 lawsuit.

A group called Pacific Rivers Council sued Fish and Game over stocking programs, arguing no environmental impact report had occurred for the programs. A superior court judge ordered the agency to complete a report, which won’t be finished until January 2010.

Meanwhile, planting of trout is not permitted in many places. Here’s the full list of lakes and rivers where fish will be stocked and where they will not: list.

Wrigley Field generates entrepreneur ventures

photo-2CHICAGO — No trip here is complete without a trip to Wrigley Field, the granddaddy of baseball stadiums.

I’ve been attending games there for years, both as an out of towner and resident. On Wednesday night, we watched the Cubs get blanked by Cincinnati.

We had great seats behind home plate — close enough to hear the thud when a batter was hit with a pitch. Ouch. (Turns out he was one of the guy’s ‘fantasy’ baseball players).

But you can have fun watching the game — even from across the street.

At Wrigley, rooftop seating has been around since the stadium opened, as a “freebie.” But now it’s big business with rooftop seating “clubs.” The apartment owners have installed bleachers on the roofs of their buildings for a “bird’s eye view.”

For about $100 and up you get all-you-can-eat food and beverages and a seat in the bleachers.

Sierra College turns to Twitter for emergencies

I wrote last month about trustee Aaron Klein proposing to use Twitter for free emergency notifications at Sierra College in the wake of a stabbing on campus.

Well, now it’s happening.

“When I raised this issue with staff, they had already begun exploring the idea, and it’s now a reality: you can follow the Sierra College Police feed at @sccdpolice,” Klein wrote on his blog.

It’s a good pragmatic use of Twitter, which is exploding with a year-to-year growth rate of more than 1,300 percent.