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Sunday, March 31, 2013

News! Information!

Since my breakfast cereal porter hasn't exploded, yet, I thought I would try another. Yesterday, I brewed up a 1-gallon, all-grain batch with Cocoa Puffs.

It's happily fermenting away, and we'll see how it goes.

Today, on my podcast, I'm going to play an interview I recorded with my nephew, John Labeck. He did something I never thought of. He made a bacon-flavored stout.

I have absolutely no idea if this will help me any, and I'm not even certain how I'll use it. But, I set up a Twitter account. I believe you can find me as jmlabeck (I think).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We're Famous!

Will Siss writes a column for the Waterbury, CT paper, the Repulican-American, called The Beer Snob. We were honored when he agreed to be our guest judge for our little stout competition for St Patrick's Day. He judged my son's to be the best, and I can't really argue, it was an excellent beer.

I found we were doubly honored when he wrote an article about our contest.

You can find it here:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

'Bout Time!

Let's see. I've been brewing since, I think, 1989. I have a blog about home brewing, and a weekly podcast about the same. My son, daughter-in-law, and nephew all brew, at least in part because of me. I recently helped my niece brew her first beer, and I'm helping an old friend get started with her first.

I just today joined the American Homebrewers Association. At least no one will accuse me of jumping on any bandwagon.

The St Patrick's Day Stout Smackdown

Last week, we had our family St Patrick's Day dinner. This was the third incarnation of the event, and it has grown every year. We were joking that, next year, we may have to rent out a venue and charge a cover.

When my niece, Emily, hosted the first one, she made Irish stew, with Guiness stout as an ingredient. Last year, she asked if I would make the stout. So, I did, and the result was yummy.

This time, somebody had the idea of a family competition. I wish I could take the credit, but I really don't remember who had the idea.

So, I, my son, Joe, and my nephew, John, all agreed to make our own take the an Irish stout. Joe's wife, Tanya, decided to join in, and we all started recipe formulation.

One of John's friends, Will Siss, writes a beer column for our local paper. He agreed to be our guest judge.

 The four beers were all delicious, all stouts, and all really different. I tried to make a classic dry stout, and flavor it with coffee and chocolate. Joe made a stout fermented over oak chips. John flavored his stout with a bacon extract that he made. Tanya made hers with something called dirty chai seasoning.

I recorded the judging, and you can listen to it at

I thought Will did a wonderful job of judging the beers, and explaining his reasoning. The winner? My son, Joe, won for his oak stout. I feel no shame in losing to him. In fact, I would have been happy no matter who won. All four were that good.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Horizons

I just finished bottling my first sour beer; a Berliner Weisse. It came in at about 2.8% ABV.

I had the chance to use my hydrometer, for the first time in about 20 years. My final gravity was 1.006, very close to the estimated of 1.007. Apparently, I know what I'm doing.

When I tasted my hydrometer sample, I was pleasantly surprised. I was exactly what I was hoping for. art and refreshing, it seemed almost citrusy on my tongue (But that might just be me.).

One of the things I've always enjoyed about brewing is coming up with names for my beers. I was stuck on this one, so I asked my wife for help. She said, "What kind of beer is it?" I told her it's a sour German wheat beer. She said, "It sounds gross." So, "Sounds Gross" is the name of my new beer.