Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jack Of All Brews Holiday Party 2012

Since we started the homebrew club, we have been doing a Holiday party.  The first year was hosted by one of our early members, Brett S. at his home.  I believe that it was his idea to do a beer gift exchange and we have continued that tradition to the current day.  That first year was just a few of us (maybe six or seven) and a very small pot luck, but the relaxed feel and true happiness I felt at the time made me want to replicate that experience in the future.  Our club has grown greatly over the years, now boasting over 50 members; and while the make-up of the group has changed with time, the members are still a great group to hang out with.  We like to open this particular meeting up to spouses (though they are always welcome to regular meetings), to let them meet the guys and know what exactly we do every second Friday of the month.  I know I like to meet with my friends' better halves! 

This year I had been ill much of the week prior to the party and was concerned that I would have to cancel it.  Luckily I was feeling somewhat better by Friday, and had a bit of my voice back.  I did need to enlist others to do most of the "official business" talking for the meeting though.

Jim showing off his Sommelier chops

We started the meeting with a short presentation about home wine making by Jim T.  Jim has been making wines for the last several years and is our resident expert on the methods of doing this.  He had fancy pictures of the equipment and action shots of the process for us to see.  Most importantly he had a slew of wines for us to try, ranging from the disturbing (banana wine??!!) to the ghetto (Mogan James) to the fabulous (Libfraumilch.)  This was a great time to break out this demo since we had a lot of non-beer spouses in attendance.  This is the first time we have ever tried to have a presentation at the Holiday went very well, but perhaps got rowdy and loud before Jim could really finish.  I blame the strong wines!

Culinary debauchery: Minnesota style!

After the talk and some brief announcements about upcoming club events and competitions we headed upstairs to partake of the extreme Minnesota Pot Luck.  I do feel cheated without any cocktail weenies, but there were plenty of great things to try.  Forgive me if I don't remember a lot of details after the piranha-like feeding frenzy.  Tim's Pate made with stout and topped with double IPA aspic was an unusual surprise.  A corn pudding was quite tasty and filling.  And the Imperial Stout beer-a-misu was a wonderful way to cap off the meal.

Looks like Alpo; smells like Alpo; tastes like Yum!
After the feast our party-goers spread out between the upper level and the basement bar to talk and try an amazing array of beers.  Oh, and Tim brought three types of jello shots made with his melomel, stout, and spicy michelada.  Party!!!  Woooo!!

One thing I love about this particular meeting is the outstanding beers that come out to play.  Folks tend to bring their big-gun homebrews (Aaron's Galaxy IPA and Tim's Blueberry Lambic come to mind,) and some rare commercial brews are shared in good company.  We tried Deschutes Abyss 2008, Alesmith 2010 Anniversary smoked maple barleywine, Ithaca Brut, Surly Four, Steel Toe Wee Heavy, and many, many more.

"Works every time!"
Before people started to fade out of the festivities we made sure to do our gift exchange. Everyone who wanted to be involved brought a wrapped or bagged beer gift and put their name in a hat.  Sj and Sarah M. were our MCs and drew names for gift choosing.  We opted out of gift-stealing for ease of action, but that would have been pretty crazy considering some of the gifts on the table!  Gifts included rare beers like the Ommegang 15 in decorative tin, St. Bernardus sampler with glass, Surly Smoke in hand-made duct-tape carry case.  Perhaps the best gift was brought by Hassan: a six pack of root beer that was initially disappointing, until it was pointed out that one bottle in the pack was actually Westvleteren 12!  This is always one of my favorite parts of the holiday party, where else does everyone get a cool beer gift instead of socks?

That is NOT root beer!
Other than the aftermath mess to clean up, this is one event that I look forward to greatly every year and appreciate all the folks from Jack Of All Brews who make it so extraordinary.  Cheers to all of my friends who could make it and to those who couldn't get here this year!  Thanks to JAB and the JAB spouses for everything and here's to another great year with good beers and better company.

Duct tape crafts!

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