Imagine living in a fish bowl? but instead of water, there is a stage.
Visible, not only from all sides, but from top and bottom (so my stage is glass!)
Now imagine pulling a curtain around it to block any possibility of being seen.
And there I am.
My bar door closed after the Christmas period, Sunday 7th Jan at closing time. Opening again the 12 th Jan. for our Pub Winter times which are weekends Friday to Sunday from 2 PM where we will continue to host our Open Friday Session as long as the musicians wish to grace said stage.
42 hours in my home, alone, no interruption, with total focus. Free flow of thought this evening aided by a Sweet Potato Curry, Quinoa and Yellow Lentils.
But in truth the ultimate unlock to my mind has been the two wonderful pints of “Blue Rose”, that crisp dry hopped Pale Ale we brew!
Well, with great excitement we announce we have been shortlisted for both the Irish Pub Awards 2017 and are in the Finals of the Blas na hEireann Food Awards 2017 with our much loved porter Carraig Dhubh!
With the possibility of expansion very real now it is giving added excitement to what we do here. While still at 5 BBL we will now move up to the 10. Brewing is at 2 brews one week and 1 week the following week still restricted by the fact that we just have 2 FV & 1 Conditioning and Bright Beer Tank.
Draught sales accounts are up to 11 so that is putting pressure on kegs and every 2nd brew is now keg Béal Bán (our draught keg typically at 4.3 or 4.4%)
At home in Tig Bhric we have between 4 and 5 draught kegs including various specials depending on the time of year, for example at the moment we have ;
Béal Bán (Golden Ale)
Riasc Gold (our summer special and the first edition if this year brewing with reships from the garden)
Blue Rose (our dry hopped special and part of the Renegade Series but ever increasingly popular so we strive to keep it available through the warmer months of the year)
Cúl Dorcha (Red Ale)
Uncle Columb’s Dark Mild (at 3.8% our ever increasingly popular Cask)
The title of the discussion last Sunday when I was fortunate to have been invited along.
Alan from Minch Malt was on the panel and is a fan of our Porter so had asked me to bring along some beer. Cuilan from White Gypsy Brewery was also one of the panelists. He gave a marvellous insight into the broader reaches of the industry with its implications for farming through to hop growing. And ultimately provide employment, he had brought along a new stout which he described as a “sour” and explained this is what Guinness would have tasted like 100 years ago. It was just very slightly on the sour side which seemed to balance the roast. A completely different profile to our Carraig Dhubh which somewhat re enforces how the whole process of brewing so exciting and diverse.
I was given opportunity to say a few words about our starting and ethos but being a discussion on the idea of bringing beer home I also referred to our water which is used to brew all the beer. It is very limey and I believe predominantly responsible for the mouth feel of the beers. Earlier in the festival I had an opportunity to here a discussion between Tomas Clancy and a Bio Dynamic and organic wine maker Caro Feely, she spoke of the soil so much and its contribution to the flavours coming through in the wines. I connected that in my mind to the similar contribution made by my well. For some reason this excites me!
Such a wonderful time I have been having these past Two weeks ….. Primarily I was interested to visit a brewery outside Padova called Birrifico Antoniana. Sandro (one of the owners) had visited our place last year through an introduction from a work colleague and I was keen to see his set up. It is incredibly concise a 20 HL brewery brewing twice and some times 3 times a day. With a kegging and 2 different bottling lines operating in tandem.
Quite an unexpected delight of the trip though has been a trip to a Prosecco Winery and Canteen BIO NDO JEO. My guide Stefano introduced me to Cristian who is continuing a long tradition in his family to make both wine and Prosecco.
How I was introduced to Stefano was equally by chance as when staying in Treviso my first days of arrival my host told me she had a friend who was a wine Sommelier and interested in setting up a business as a guide to wineries in the area. He has a big interest in Bio Dynamic production so this really fits in so well with our own ethos for our beer production. It was incredibly exciting to be amongst people who genuinely love what they do and see that the best possible path is one of purity to the best of ones ability. Cristian kept referring to the soil and explained how his winery is on different kinds of soil which naturaly effect the flavours in his wines.
Following my trip to Cristians place I also stayed a few days in Venice where amongst my highlights had to be a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim museum ;
I also had a marvellous evening when invited to listen in on a rehearsal of a Quartet while in Padova… So moved it brought tears to my eyes. The power of music when in its presence is quite overpowering. My visit to Venice actually centred around music as I had booked a ticket to La Traviata in Musico La Palazzio which did not disappoint. My first every Opera I enjoyed the moving between rooms in the palace as the preformance progressed.
By inference meaning of a place close by or within a set region….On a recent visit to a restaurant in Dingle I took note of the specials menu board which under the Starter and Main course offerings listed the following Local Drinks;
Dingle Pale Ale
Local Blond Draught Lager
For anyone who knows me, they would immediately understand why I had to question the restauranteur on what I perceive to be out and out untruths (perhaps this is too strong a noun, but I hope it is effective) At least in respect to two of the above beverages.
Retail sits between Producer and Consumer and with affordable spending the consumer buys from retail but perhaps pays little heed to how what they are purchasing is described and presented, is it a laziness ? I am not sure. But somehow within the retail realm key words of description and presentation become key hooks to ensure a steady flow from their trade…. …..
At present Local is such a magic word conjuring definitive scenes of conscientious producers creating delights within defined radii … All the while satisfying the thorough consumer it none the less also allows for a certain kind of misuse, for what ever reason, perhaps ignorance or just ineptitude. My compulsive need to express opinion on this matter is entirely fuelled by an abhorrence to lack of transparency and straightforwardness. As a small drinks producer I see the benefit of having clusters of individual facilities creating various kinds of beverages in any locality. We are actually in a position to kickstart a whole artisan industry which could potentially benefit communities at large through the various knock on effects of our production and packaging processes. We here in Beoir Chorca Dhuibhne produce so little in the greater scheme of things and struggle to match demand with supply ( a problem I wish at some point to overcome ) But in the mean time I would welcome moving through a world where clarity and coherency take precedence.
This is the logo we, The ICBI (Independant Craft Brewers of Ireland) have spent the last couple of years bringing to fruition. Many hours of discussion and debate centred on the two important aspects involved–The Criteria for usage & The Design–The Porterhouse Brewery paid for the design work which was carried out by Mark Keating.
The result is a crisp, clear, transparent badge with the purposes of informing the consumer to the native provenance of the beers they are purchasing.
The full list of the criteria and participating breweries is available at the link below.
But for my purposes here the most important aspects are as follows;
The breweries who may use this logo brew their own beer in their own brewery and have it packaged on the island of Ireland.
It is hoped to drive home this awareness to the customer who cares about the indigenous and local nature of the drinks they purchase. Of course not everyone cares about these considerations, but the point is to make the information available for those who do…
For many in the business of producing drinks transparency in all aspects is paramount…….
The recent launch of the symbol in Bradleys off licence on North Main Street Cork was well attended and after my delivery and the few photographs that were taken I returned to my vehicle (The Mothers car due to a break down of my Van) and discovered a parking ticket for 40 euro from Cork City Council, I subsequently received a similar fine from the Gardai for another 40 euro and after two failed appeals the trip to Cork ended up costing quite a bit!!:(
Completely taken by surprise with our award for one of our Red Ales “Riasc Red”, which ordinarily we brew in Spring as part of the Botanical Range. It has a generous amount of Rose Hips added during fermentation and was given the Bronze in the Red Ale category………
We (as in Me and The Award) enjoyed a terrific “Blue” Dexter Beef Steak at the Bar in Fentons Restaurant afterwards to celebrate! Being the Bar Fly I am it suits to prop up other peoples counters………. Of course the weekend of the awards was really about the Dingle Food Festival (First weekend of October) now in its 10th year…I am proud to say we here at Tig Bhric, have been part of it every year…… The first 2 we served our homemade Soup in the arch beside Lisbeth Mulcahys, then with the Founding of the Brewery in 2008 we took to offering a different kind of soup!! We have been outside Benners Hotel in the Alleyway, outside Jerry Kennedys Butcher, outside the Cheese Shop and both outside an inside Mc Carthys Bar (Tom becoming our first draught account back in 2014) Latterly the last 2 has seen us inside and outside Kennedys Pub!! Along way from soup……………
Then there was that old friend, Sandra Hennessy who immigrated with her family to Canada when she was 18 turning up out of the blue………. Arriving with husband Cliff and Friends Ray & Edie. Ray made a brief video of his afternoon here and explained his aim of visiting 100 bars during there whole vacation which I believe was taking in Scotland and Ireland, half of that could of course have been achieved by touring the Dingle Peninsula!
And lastly that Anniversary………. 16 years ago, yesterday, the 6th Oct 2001 at 4.15 approx on a beach in the town of Tropea in the Province of Calabria, Italy, Padraig Brick father to my 2 children, the late baby Hugo and now 20 year old Maude, died in front of be while a life guard tried to resuscitate him, blowing into his mouth and pounding his chest…… Those moments are etched in my memory and visited often. Our chalet, number 11, the surrounding plants, the other guests, the waiter who came in the ambulance to the hospital and translated for me, the cigarettes he insisted I smoke. Padraig’s Aunt and Uncle Ann & Sean ( along with Ann’s sister Mary) who traveled from Northern Italy, my brother Conor who within 24 hours managed to travel from the U.S. The Italian Doctor Friend of a friend who explained you must request your dead one is placed in the Chilled Morgue. Finding funeral directors, sealing Padraig in a lead coffin. The 5 days that followed, the arranging of flights and my insisting Padraig be on every flight I was on……Arriving in Cork, asking a Flight Attendant “Where do I go to collect a Coffin?” And the myriad amount of Friends and Family who rushed to embrace me as I came through arrivals……….
Well, here we are again getting ready to bring the circus that is West Kerry Brewery to Dublin for our favourite chosen Beer Festival…….. The plan is to have Riasc Gold, Blue Rose, Uncle Columbs Dark Mild, Cul Dorcha, Black Elder and Carraig Dhubh in tow………..
Who and how we make friends is arbitrary in one way, but in another I believe we draw them toward us. While lots has been discussed and said about Oliver over the last couple of days since his sudden and untimely death I felt a desire to verbalise his impact on me. Apart from stating the obvious, that I shall miss him, and put in as a succinct way as possible….. He enabled me to see my own strengths.
We formed an unusual friendship from the outside but our similarities materialised over the last few years and as I was going down into the depths of depression he provided a very real sense of being there. By this I mean, he believed in me and encouraged me through that phase to understand my place in the world and he empowered me to understand my value. Confidence is something a lot of people struggle with, but he had oodles of it, while confidence can appear as arrogance to some this he certainly was not.
So, I wish to thank Oliver for giving me confidence in myself, my abilities and what I am striving to achieve.