The summer rush is certainly on with little time to be sitting around contemplating life and its meaning, hence my slow return to this page!! Killarney Beer Festival at the end of the week will have us meeting and sharing some beer chat,,, If around for it do call in………
The first brew of Blue Rose is in the tank and all going well we will package it in both kegs and bottles. Part of our Renegade series it proved a popular beer last year for us. I think the citrus had an appeal in particular with younger people who are driving the production of IPA‘s in general.
Not our usual style, you may know already we favour more malt driven beers which seem to best suit our locality of The West Kerry Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula.
Rain and mist are a frequent forecast so warming beers of good mouth feel and full malt character are usually more desirable.
With a new set of beers in mind and again thinking in Threes, we brewed the first, a low alcohol cask only which we named “Uncle Columb’s Mild” This beer was a suggestion from Paul who wanted a beer somewhat similar to a style found around Manchester where his Uncle Columb resides and Drinks! And brewed for the occasion when a few session-able beers are called for, we are serving it here in the bar (Bricks) and may get to send a couple up to Dublin. Our variety is red in colour, lowly hopped with balanced malt flavour. All comments and opinions would be welcomed, the exciting bit to brewing is not just the drinking but the feed back.
Finally we are out of a most horrible winter, or supposedly so. It has been an incredibly long, dreary season and I know some people didn’t make it through……. There is such hardship for so many in our community and society in general.
Putting those thoughts aside though, today is a brew day and such joy these days are…….. Riasc Red is on the menu today and refining on last years efforts we are changing how we add the botanicals (rose hips and elder flower heads) I made up a syrup with the rose hips and we made a tea with the elder flower…… While in the past we have added to the copper today we will add to the fermenter during transfer from the copper…. The hope is to retain slightly more of their flavours …….. Time will tell ………
At my age it is quite a surprise to finally feel strongly enough about something to warrant joining in! I was though long ago a girl guide which I hated but tagged along because my friends were members and we got to camp out, play with fire and pretend to be nymphs of the forrest (I love forests and in particular, trees, luckily forests usually have plenty)
The organisation I refer to while formed a number of years, is in fact still a fledgling. It was set up to promote and encourage the production of beer in Ireland amongst a steady growing number of micro breweries.
Provenance and independence were part of our emerging criteria and although made up of differing kinds of breweries and people behind them we set about honing our identity and coined a code of practice along with having a logo designed. But it was decided our logo should be bigger than the organisation because it was to represent and gauge authentic provenance to our consumers, who naturally have no way of understanding what is “Irish” in the beer world because until very recently that whole industry was controlled by corporates, Diageo and Heineken have been the two biggest players with masses of input to how consumers think about beer. My own impetus to start a brewery stemmed from this very control which I abhor, we are now in a position to re educate our consumers, enlightening them as to the true nature of the beer they consume. My own standing is to promote the notion of “Terroir” but naturally not everyone has my purist view. How and ever as part of the ICBI it is tremendously exciting to see before us possiblities which will reach in and around micro breweries………
And just like forests have many trees our industry should have many breweries, brewing and packaging on our own Island………
Christmas a time of heightened everything……..emotions, indulgence, expectations, offerings etc. etc……….
In a constant state of ever changing flux and re-invention we opened Bricks and took great delight in the pop up restaurant “The Brewers Kitchen”……………it lasted the duration of the holidays and offered seasonal winter foods along with a tasting of three of our draught products…..Winter Ale, Cúl Dorcha and Béal Bán……. Away from my brewers pot still needing to satisfy that hunger for stirring and mixing so…….. the goose and ham became terrines, rose hip syrup drizzled over alongside marinated figs in our Festive Imperial Black Ale, pickled grapes, cheeses and smoked salmon(which I source from Iasc Uí Mhathuna, and really love its flavour) An experiment with brewers yeast, goose fat, milk and flour produced lovely little dough balls which when served warm were divine!!!!!!
It’s all over now though! January……… but surprisingly I can see the sky today and Mt Brandon covered in snow……………did you know the sky is blue, not murky grey?!!
” Saccharomyces”, according to the book is the most common strain of yeast used to ferment beer. Their are two stains seemly – saccharomyces uvarum (originally carlbergensis, which has a familiar sound to it.) and saccharomyses cerevisae, the former is bottom fermenting while the latter ferments on top at slightly warmer temperatures producing what we call ale. This is how we ferment our beers, all of whom are ales regardless of their colour. I believe at one time beer was described as being determined by the fact that hops are added so ale would have had plants and herbs for flavouring. I note in todays world of drinking the common perception is that ale is red, not so seemly. A lovely analogy mentioned, is that both yeasts are members of the same family but have different table manners, there is a certain allusion to tolerance here!
“Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers”
A visit to my friend Juli Malone whom I see sporadically, but somehow always seem to leave her company enriched and feeling better than when I arrive at her home……Funny how people affect us in different ways, I know we all project on to those around us, as if we see different reflections of ourselves. Connecting as humans is our pre requisite. A need to understand the why of things a prominent thought in my mind and Juli lent me a book by the above name-strictly for two weeks I might add, except I can’t remember when she lent it!-
Juli was were I began my garden all those years ago when my baby
son Hugo died and I was left so bereft and empty, I took to digging the nettle infested grassland around me and Juli’s garden centre in Burnham, that magical trees-cape, where a river runs into the sea, became my refuge and source of inspiration. I had no interest in food growing typically suburban in my outlook as to what a garden should be. Colour and scent were my driving objectives along with wanting privacy so height was also a consideration. No thoughts what so ever were given to the idea that all plants or at least the most part of them have nutritional value. Not for a moment did I consider over the years that my interest in establishing my garden would pair with my interest in drinking!! And lately, brewing!
The kind of book you would dip in and out of, a warm sea. Knowledge literally making mention to The Well of Wisdom, a way of thinking about the world holistically as opposed to scientifically. Thoughts no doubt of “mumbo jumbo” or some such other derogatory phrase to discredit ways of thinking about ones relationship with the world may come to mind.
Thus far I am captivated by the idea that plants can impart their properties to us. This is along the lines of thinking “we are what we eat” I have always connected to this and believe it to be true.
Humans have been fermenting plants for thousands of years, using them to impart various different effects, not just the soporific effects of the hop plant family which are used widely in beer making today.
I look forward to reading further into the book in order to discover more….
My preoccupation at the moment is cloudy beer……..not bad tasting beer………just, opaque and “opalescent” as Peter, a proper brewer would call it……….Brew sheets have been revisited as well as revising all the procedures along the way of a brew. All appears as it has been previously until we consider the yeast, that amazing living organism responsible for the creation of our beers. We use the same strain of yeast for all our beers, rousing and cropping off each brew in order to ferment the next batch. Periodically we order a fresh batch from Brendan because the old growth takes on attributes which we don’t like, for example, not dropping out during the 7 days with in the fermenter. With the beers being unfiltered there is typically more yeast left in the final product than its filtered cousins. Our method of conditioning just involving moving the beers through 3 tanks, FV conditioning tank and bottling tank each one chilled to about 5 degrees.
At the moment in the bar we are serving 3 draught keg beers, Blue Rose the first of the Renegades, our dry hopped range, being widely appreciated for its well balanced refreshing citrus, grapefruit taste. A nod towards an IPA but more reserved and subtle. We also have what we are calling a IBA (Imperial Black Ale) brewed for the Dingle Food Festival and waiting for labels so we can dispatch bottles off around the place, named as Festive IBA our 3rd Renegade, dry hopped with Summit that American high alpha hop. Lastly we have Cúl Dorcha and dark red bitter with plenty of caramel malt.
Thoughts now are moving to our opening times in the bar as winter descends, we will beaver away in the brewery producing to suit demand, but the population dwindles to minuscule negating our need to be in the bar. We will how ever still be delighted to offer tours and tastes within the brewery by appointment. More accurate information will be posted on our Face book Page.
6 days in a persons life can yield surprising variety and unexpected happenings, well, that’s the way of it in my world……… With a beer trip and related business in mind I set off for Dublin last week in my only vehicle, having seen to the permanent demise of my other vehicle. Approaching the exit for Nenagh and engrossed in a very loud rendition of Kate Bush’s” Aerial” album I heard a loud bang followed by a pile of smoke coming up through the floor of the van. With an attitude of, head down and foot to the floor, all will be fine, I willed and realised a freewheeling descent off the motorway through the exit before complete failure and cessation just past a roundabout.
Mostly I was upset with the interruption in my listening to Kate, she is descriptive, melodic and renders superior visions of positivity.
Mention of the young man who stopped and pushed the van off the road is a must, he was very gracious and even dropped me to a pub in town I knew would be possible to hook up with friends of friends. Una Powells a traditional pub in the town of Nenagh is a place all should make their way too.
Being part of this craft brewing industry it is also worth noting and celebrating the good will amongst fellow breweries, that said, Jamie from WhiteGypsy came to rescue the beer I was traveling with and then towed the dead van to safety. Further more he subsequently delivered the beer to Grand Cru Beers who mange to sell on to several outlets around the country. My trip took on a different shape with no vehicle or beer to deliver, which included in part a delivery of our autumn special Riasc Black brewed with fresh blackberries and blackcurrants………..
Along with a catch up with old friends and always keen to take in some visual art, I was so pleased to come across an exhibition in IMMA entitled “What we call Love from the Surrealists to Now” running until February……..an interpretation of all kinds of love from the obvious heterosexual and homosexual to maternal/paternal and even touching on a certain love of pets.,…there is an interesting opinion from both a Sociologist and Neurologist which give added dimension to understanding……. Then, on to Sean Scully’s exhibition in the National Gallery which I just caught at the tail end of it before it finished on the 20th Sep. Great reverence given to large paintings of singular colours arranged in strips with a room dedicated to some black and white photographs of stone walls in Connemara, I related entirely to the linear presentation of these and could recognise his visual reference and starting point for his paintings…… Oh to have opinions and a platform to express them! ……….
On to other business, I took in a Bord Bia conference which primarily I was interested in from the perspective of being a small drinks producer, naturally, their were several speakers whom I enjoyed listening to, primarily though, these events and there kind remind me of the importance of,,, “sticking to your guns” ……..Their are people who look for guidance and those who just wing it, the challenge daily is to figure out which category one falls into???!
Below a photograph of me to the left, surprisingly!, with Pat Mc Grath centre and Colm O Leary around 1988 ish in The College of Marketing and Design around about the time I thought I could be a full time artist.
And on the 6th day, back home in my own place, Bricks Pub/Tig Bhric, in recognition of Culture Night we hosted an event for our customers and nearby neighbours. In an attempt to equate our production of beer from well to bottle, cask or keg with indigenous expression of culture, synonymous as the local poetry, writings or visual art might be, we were delighted to offer a tour of our modest facility and garden explaining some of the processes involved in making beer.
With a backdrop of candle light, wood fire and live music supplied by Ina, Eoin and Tomas, on offer a tasting selection of 5 different draught beers;
2 on cask, Carraig Dubh a smooth luxurious porter and Blue Rose No.1 of our new Renegade Series, deliciously fragrant a dry hopped pale ale with hints of grapefruit.
3 on Keg, Black Elder No.2 of the Renegades dry hopped with high alpha American Summit and large handfuls of fresh Elder Flower which gave a distinct earthy presence, almost tasting of clay….. Cúl Doracha a very well balanced dark red ale with slight bitterness and suitable fruity finish, and finally Béal Bán a golden ale with a sweet character and malty caramel mouthfeel………………