Last night was the company Christmas party. I'm also now officially on leave for three weeks, and that's just as well as I really needed those extra couple of hours in bed this morning. Well, my son did still come in and chat at me for 30 minutes, and him sitting on my belly didn't produce any terrible side-effects, so I think I came out ok after the long night. And I thought I couldn't do 3am any more!
The party itself kicked off at 17:00, but due to a server ditching my work without warning (causing considerable swearing and undoing weeks of physiotherapy) I had to redo some stuff and didn't join till 18:00 (see how I'm getting into the German way of writing time?). There is a large terrace in the middle of our building, and this had been decked out with a couple of tents under which food was being served, and lots of standing tables to gather at for munching the fine food and get a few beers in. The beers on offer were Pott's Landbier and Krombacher (I have a soft spot for Krombacher actually, but usually in Summer). Inside was a bar, but the catering company had several people moving about taking orders and cleaning away empties. Music was provided by the resident DJ with lots of lighting and smoke machines. As Christmas parties go it was really great fun and relaxed. The last few hours flew by in a haze, but looking at all the photos, the late-shift crew that I was with clearly had a laugh. Despite that I do remember the cycle home, and I didn't wake my wife up crawling in at 3am and making a cheese sandwich.
Of course, the party was also an opportunity to test out the Christmas beer on some colleagues. My wife made a special delivery of two crates of home brew, one containing the Christmas beer in its three incarnations, the other was a mix of my most recent American-style pale ale, the last three bottles of my Muenster Mulligan Porter and a clutch of His Master's Vice, a dark, relatively hoppy beer that is in its second version (and one of my favourites). It still needs work though.
It was a bit like setting up shop in the kitchen, and trade was brisk. I was pleasently surprised at the reaction to the Christmas beer, but maybe the atmosphere of a Christmas party made it more accessible. Nevertheless, it was also gratifying that people could taste the differences between the unoaked and the two oaked versions, many comments mirroring my own. For some people it was a little sweeter then they were accustomed to, but they adjusted by the second glass. In fact, the lightly oaked one seemed to cut the sweetness with a little tannic edge noted by one colleague.
The pale ale was a real hit with many. It's a typically American-style affair with lots of grapefruity, citric aromas, and again a grapefruit-like dry bitterness on top of a reasonably malty backbone. Only one person didn't like it at all, pouring it out. It was strange, as this person (who does not work in the office) was picking out some very subtle flavours from the Christmas beer. I'm guessing he's a wine afficionado, but he described the aroma and taste of the pale ale as being like a train station in a busy city after midnight. Actually, very descriptive. If it was wine I bet he would have said catty though, and drank it. Actually, I just found out he was a customer!
Overall everything went down really well, and while there was a consistent group in the kitchen for nearly two hours drinking my beers, people outside were hearing about it and coming in asking for Christmas beer. Great fun! The CEO, a true gentleman in every sense, offered to pay for the costs of the beer. Of course I refused. Having a large group of people try your beers and give honest feedback is reward enough. Having them seem to genuinely enjoy them was great!
One outcome of all this is a potential team brewing day suggested by my team leader. A capital idea!