2009 Holiday Party Recap: Winter Storm Fails to Dampen PG Holiday Spirit

by Tomm “Christtmass” Carroll

The Pacific Gravity Holiday Party Carol

Sing along (to the tune of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”):

Oh the weather outside was pouring,

But the beer was so alluring,

And since we’ve got kegs to drain,

Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain!

The brew club threw one good meeting,

And cooked up a feast for eating,

The homebrew was just insane!

Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain!

So they thoughtfully tarped Neil’s yard

(How we hate drinkin’ out in the storm!),

And the guests came from near and far,

For Mulled Mead and Winter Warm(er).

The turnout was never baffling,

‘Cause Santa was there for raffling,

And as long as we’re feelin’ no pain,

Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain

Perhaps jealous that she wasn’t invited, Mother Nature dealt Pacific Gravity a meteorological lump of coal, heaping wind and rain aplenty on our annual Holiday Party Saturday, December 12.

But despite the storm, the party at Neil Saund’s Mar Vista duplex (site of the annual celebration since 2007) came off without a hitch, thanks to the busy PG elves, who erected tarps and E-Z Ups in the outside area, which housed the all-important kegs of homebrew and kept the partiers – but not their thirsts – dry.

Some 175 club members, guests and friends braved the elements to participate in the bacchanal – and to see whose photos and what beer cans and coasters bedecked the fully trimmed Xmas tree this year. A few warmed by the roaring fireplace, although the outside temperatures were rather mild, thanks to the tropical origin of the storm.

Nearly three-dozen homebrewed wassail (or wasslager) offerings were on hand, arguably offering a tipple for every taste. See the full list, below.

Whether you wanted warm (Dan Hakes’ Mulled Mead), spicy (Carl Townsend’s, Matthew Rick’s and Nels Brown’s Spiced Holiday Ales), or sweet (Jonathan Fischer’s Cookies n’ Milk Stout); something to pick you up (Reed Wilson’s Coffee Cocoa Robust Porter), or knock you out (Larry Caldwell’s Madeira Oak-Aged Barleywine); something traditional (Terry Molloy’s English Mild, Neil Saund’s ESB), experimental (Chris Simental’s Oak Tripel), or inspirational (Tim Bardet and Ian Fraser’s Sticke Fred; a Düsseldorf Alt-style beer dedicated to founding club member Fred Waltman as a thank-you for arranging the “Sticke Warriors” beer tour of Germany and beyond this past October), there was a tap for you.

Many bottled beers, mostly of the aged holiday variety, also made appearances for the partiers’ drinking pleasure.

But it was the bodacious banquet that kept bellies full and prepped for further drinking. Club Master Chef Ian Fraser once again topped himself (does the man know no limits?). Not only overseeing most of the preparation and presentation for the holiday feast, he also contributed:

Prime Rib

Düsseldorf mustard-glazed ham

The popular “Bacon Explosion” (bacon wrapped in beef wrapped in bacon)

Five-cheese Mac n’ cheese (with assist from Bob Henderson)

Red wine/sourdough stuffing

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Watercress salad.

Some of the other dishes/cooks represented were:

Carbonnades à la Flamande/Michael Steinberg

Deep-fried turkey/Marvin Campbell

Smoked turkey/Rob Kadota

Dry-rubbed ribs/Liz Irons

, Scaldis Nöel candied yams/Bob Henderson

Bourbon yams/Greg Beron

Drunk yams/Scott Burnell

Sausage stuffing/Nathalie Balandran

Side Casserole/Tom Rierson

Mac n’ cheese/Victor Macias

Curry Vegetables/Neil Saund

Cornbread/Jerry Ferro

Green salad/Charlie Axilbund

Ten-layer salad/Everett

Potato salad/Larry Powell

Pumpkin pie/Diana Ahlem

Pumpkin Swiss roll/John Hillard

Chocolate bread pudding/Dan Hakes

Beer cheesecake/Larry Caldwell

There were certainly many other contributors to the mass quantities of solid sustenance whose names unfortunately are neither known or nor remembered. Many thanks to them and to all mentioned for giving each of us one of the best meals of the holiday season.

The club’s year-end club awards were also presented, as is the tradition. Still the winningest PG homebrewer, Chris Simental was named PG’s Brewer of the Year for the second consecutive year. And our own GABF Award-winning home – and – pro brewer, Jonathan Porter of Tustin Brewing, was voted Member of the Year. Last year’s honoree, Larry Caldwell made the announcement, presented Porter with a mini-mash paddle, and swatted him on the butt (as is custom) with a full-sized version.

Offering a surprise, club Co-Presidents Peggy Robinson and Nathalie Balandran presented a couple of extra awards: A pair of pewter mugs, one to outgoing five-term PG President Craig Corley for his half-decade of service, and one to Luis DiStefano, for his longtime, deadline-ridden role as publisher of the defunct Pacific Gravity Gazette (now incorporated into the PG website).

And then Santa Claus finally arrived (just about the time that Terry Molloy disappeared; hmmm…) and helped Peggy and Nathalie with the Holiday Party Raffle, doling out presents ranging from Xmas beer and glass sets to gift certificates to local beer bars.

Unable to disrupt the Pacific Gravity merrymaking, and doubtlessly disappointed that it was basically ignored by the revelers, the storm finally gave up, and moved on up the coast. It will take a lot more than extreme weather to stand in the way of this brew club’s party schedule.

Let’s do it again next year. And to Mother Nature: Bring it on!