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……….
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.
There is something so intoxicating and transfixing living on an edge……..The attached view is moments from my home and shows the Three sisters above Cúl Dorcha beach… I took a stroll last Sunday and reached a kind of Nirvana in the knowledge that I alone in the world had this spectacular panorama, an enriching feeling where nothing else is required.
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?!!
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….