Learn To Brew Day – where were you, ay? (with photos)

In spite of the ever-so-slightly inclement weather the day before, Saturday morning greeted us with about as clear a sky as you’re likely to see in a metropolis such as our own.  Learn To Brew Day, hosted by the ever-generous Neil Saund at his palatial duplex , would go on.  Carl arrived just before I did and was unloading a stripped-down version of his all-grain system – sorry kids – no thermosiphon reboiler.  I followed suit and in no-time, water was on the fire.  Neil was already set up, and we were soon joined by the brewing trio of Dave, Kurt, and Anthony.  Rives Borland, our resident double-agent, arrived a bit later and got going right out.  It’s OK, Rives – only a matter of time – just ask Dan!  On tap was Neil’s “Norm-influenced” hoppy Amber ale, and a while later, our host’s amazingly-aged Imperial Stout with lots of residual nitro made its presence known – and boy, did it.

Carl brewed an all-grain Amber ale, Neil made a giant vat of “Teach Wheat”, I cranked out an extract Dunkelweizen, the 3 Brewsketeers suffered through a partial-mash-process Porter as a base for adding vanilla later, and Rives, if I’m not mistaken, brewed a low-gravity base beer which will grow up to be a Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere clone.  Audrey reprised her role as Grill-Mistress and satiated the brewing masses with sausages and hot dogs.

In the days leading up to the brew, Carl and I had discussed toasting LA “good beer bar” pioneer Dave Farnworth, co-founder of Lucky Baldwins.  So we gathered everyone up, silenced the boombox, and raised some fine Belgian beers high in his memory.  It bears repeating that without Dave, Los Angeles’ beer bars might’ve taken a lot longer to escape the post-prohibition dark ages, continuing to serve megaswill to the unenlightened and indifferent hordes.

Although “learner” turnout was low, from a “Big Brew” standpoint, the ratio of brewers to attendees was quite high, so chalk-up another successful PG multiple-brewer session.  Collectively, we brewed about 40 gallons, and some of those gallons will be enjoyed by the membership at our upcoming Holiday Party on December 10th.  Thanks again to Neil for hosting us and to Audrey for organizing the event.

Here are a few pics from the occasion (courtesy Audrey and yours truly):

Our gracious host Neil, in chill-mode.

Carl and his brewing rig.

Awaiting the inevitable Big-Brew-boilover with my imaginary squirt gun.

Kurt, Dave, and Anthony - the 3 Brewsketeers.

Some serious learnin' goin' on here.

Neil enjoys the breakfast of champions.

"What the heck is Mauceli doing?"

Ken and I are Wyeast's new spokesmen. You wanna buy some yeast?

Neil enjoys a good round of "peek-a-boo".

Some of the Belgians consumed in Dave Farnworth's honor. That's right - a '99 Chimay Blue. Again I say - where were you?

Tim assists Carl as he utilizes another of his mad scientist gadgets - the PVC Racking Tubery.

Rives brought a selection of Jolly Pumpkin 750s and the sour pours just kept comin'. Thanks Rives!

I'm Neil Saund, and I approve of this Learn To Brew Day!

April 2010 PG Meeting Recap

The Pacific Gravity’s April meeting was another great night. Beer made with extracts was the style, so it was pretty wide open.  There was an IPA from Michael Lambert and one from Ed Lee, Michael Steinburg brought a mild, Kurt, Dave and Noel teamed up on a Vanilla Porter and Dave Lasdon brought an Oatmeal Stout.  Thanks to all for bringing beer to the meeting.

Michael Steinberg set out a spread of snacks.  We had a selection of cheeses and crackers, with popcorn on the side.  Thanks Michael.

The business part of the meeting involved all the upcoming events and contests on the schedule.  The big event is the Southern California Homebrewers Festival, and it will be a not to be missed event.  If you have never been, you don’t know what you’re missing, it’s an epic weekend of homebrew, friends, homebrew, food, homebrew, music and homebrew!

The Style of the Month Commercial Tasting was presented by Nathalie Baldaran.  The style was Smoke, Wood Aged and Specialty beer and we sampled a nice selection.  We started with the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier and then moved on to the Alaskan Smoked Porter.  The Aged Pale Ale by Petrus was next, followed by Deschutes Brewery’s Jubel 2010.  Up next was Schneider Weiss Hopfen Weiss and last but not least was Bootleggers Black Phoenix, a chipotle coffee stout.

After the commercial tasting, we sample more beer, lots of club members were breaking out bottles of homebrew.  This led up to the raffle and we gave out plenty of prizes, including a carboy and a wort chiller.

Then there was a vote for the best  in-style kegged beer of the meeting and the winner was Kurt, Dave and Noel with their Vanilla Porter. Put the $25.00 gift certificate to good use.

See you at the next meeting!

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: Read more

Teach a Friend to Homebrew Recap

Ahh, a crisp sunny day in fall.  What better way to spend it than teaching some friends how to brew?  That’s just what a dozen PG brewers did on Saturday, November 7th, the official Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day as designate by the American Homebrewers Association.

Our host and instructor for the day was Neil Saund, who Read more

New Members Lead the Charge for PG’s Trip to Stone Fest: A Road Trip Report

Call it “Pacific Gravity Road Trip: The Next Generation.”

Most of the homebrew club’s old-timers, longtime members and veteran drunks, for one rea$on or another, sat out the annual bus trip down to Stone Brewing’s (13th) Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival on the campus of Cal State San Marcos on Saturday, August 22. So new club members and first-time Stone Fest’ers comprised the lion’s share of the 28 of us who took the excursion. And they were not disappointed.

The bus had ample AC, a working bathroom (although its light was out during the first leg of the trip, making for some interesting maneuvers and challenges at aiming), and the good homebrew and commercial beers flowed. The weather forecast seemed a bit dodgy, and we even hit some rainy drizzle en route down.

But by the time we had checked in and were lined up waiting for the gates to open at 11:00 a.m., the clouds parted, the sun came out, and the heat came on with a vengeance. It was brutal. Many of the beer booths even had sunscreen for the thirsty throngs who arrived without protection. How bad was it? The lines for the (eventually warm) rinse water were longer than they were for many of the beer tents.

That said, the site was much less crowded than last year (the first at this location), with the beer booths more spread out and staggered into different areas. And yes, there were long lines, but they mostly moved quickly. The queues for Avery Brewing and Maui Brewing seemed always to be lengthy.

Why? Well, aside from its great Maharaja Imperial IPA and its 15th and 16th Anniversary brews, Avery also had the very limited (only 5.8 bbls made) Voltron, which also made a brief appearance at the Beachwood BBQ’s Sour Fest that same week. Voltron consisted of five sour beers, including Brabant, Port Alter Boy and Good Sally. It was extremely complex and puckery. Read more

Mead Day a Sweet Success!

Saturday August 8, Pacific Gravity joined brewers around the world in celebrating American Homebrewer’s Association’s Mead Day.  (Ok, there was only one site out of the USA, some meadsters in Russia joined in on the fun.)

37 sites were registered and 19 sites have reported in for a total of 231 gallons of mead in 52 batches and 302 people participating. Our site had 20 people participate and 4 people made meads.  To watch for a final total of AHA Mead Day, go to http://www.beertown.org/events/meadday/celebrate.html
Since mead is so easy to brew, we had a leisurely start time of 12:00 noon.  In no time at all we had 5 batches completed, totaling 8 gallons.  I made an experimental batch of agave nectar mead using only agave (is that still a mead?).  We’ll have to wait until next year to try it.

There was plenty of mead to sample and sample we did.  Thanks to all who brought samples of their mead, we had quite a few examples.  We sampled the mead that was made last year on Mead Day, and we tasted the mead I added apricots from Ian Fraser’s backyard, as well as the batch I added black walnut to.  We also made a special drink of the afternoon, meadjitos!  I blended a mix of fresh squeezed lime juice with mint and honey and we served it mixed with mead, crushed ice and sparkling water.  Perfect for a sunny afternoon of meadmaking.

Michael Steinburg made us some quesadillas on the BBQ, and several people brought munchies to share.  Of course we weren’t limited to mead and the homebrew flowed freely.

After the mead was made we had a fun time in the Carriage House Tap Room, playing darts and enjoying mead and homebrew.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Mead Day!

Pacific Gravity’s Summer ‘Party Gras’: Who Needs a Bayou When You Got Beer?

IMG_1445Ooh-wee, baby, ooh-wee. The good times rolled and the great beer flowed at Pacific Gravity’s 13th annual Summer Party on July 18, which brought a bit of New Orleans revelry to the Pacific Palisades plantation estate of club member Dean Sussman (right), the site of the celebration for seven years running.

Bedecked in strands of Mardi Gras beads, over 275 club members, guests, families and friends got their Creole on for this homebrew fais do-do, grooving to iPod mixes of N’awlins funk, Cajun zydeco, swamp rock and Dixieland jazz, noshing on Louisiana-styled eats, and swilling down a wide variety beer –– both homemade and commercial –– and sodas. And the perennial “Home Brew Club Summer Party Band” reformed once again to contribute a couple sets of booty-shakin’ blues rock. Think Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras –– except nobody had to give anything up the next day!

Special guests at the party, all of whom were among the many who donated gifts for the party raffle, included Larry James of Wine Warehouse distributors (who brought along a four-year-old keg of Echte Kriek!), former club member Michael Bowe of Angel City (who tapped kegs of his Vitzen and IPL – India Pale Lager), Paige Reilly of Shmaltz Brewing, Brian Lenzo of Blue Palms Brew House, Ryan Sweeney and Brandon Bradford of Verdugo Bar and BoHo, and Billie Anderson of Lucky Devils. Also, beer-blogger Sean Inman was in the house, and covered the party for the Food GPS blog.

Club master chef Ian Fraser came out of semi-retirement to oversee and help prepare the massive New Orleans-influenced feast, Read more