First and foremost...I've been busy. I'm now officially retired, and the whole process of not working anymore is a little more complicated than just not getting in the car every day. But, that's all behind me, and I can now devote myself to more important things, like beer.
One nice thing about retirement is that I have a steady income, and LOTS of free time. The best part of that is that my beer cabinet is back up to capacity.
I've made an English mild ale, a spiced winter ale, a porter, my first ever Imperial IPA, an I now have fermenting a mocha stout.
The stout has a story. My niece, Emily, for the last few years, has hosted a family party for St Patrick's Day. She makes and Irish stew, with stout in the gravy. Last year, she asked me to brew a stout just for the event. I was happy to do so.
During the past year, the wheels started turning in my head. My son and nephew both brew, so why not have a little friendly competition for next St Paddy"s Day? They both agreed, my daughter-in-law asked in, so now the four of us are competing for the right to have their stout included in that night's stew.
We're calling it The St Patrick's Day Stout Smackdown, and a friend of ours, Will Siss, who writes a column for the local paper called The Beer Snob, has agreed to be judge for our little competition. Will also has an online blog at http://willsiss.com, or http://drinkreadlive.blogspot.com/
The actual lineup of beers promises to be very interesting. I'm making a mocha stout, coffee and chocolate, my son is making one flavored with oak chips, my nephew plans to flavor his with bacon, and my son's wife will be using vanilla chai.
I've said this elsewhere. I'd like to win. But, since they all brew because of me, to some extent, even if I lose, I win.