Category Archives: moments

Christmas and The Brewers Kitchen in Bricks Pub

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 borrowed book

“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

Hugo and me
Hugo and me

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….

 

Septembers second instalment a trip to the City and Culture Night

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.

 

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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………………

 

 

Quail for dinner

3 for a tenner in my local butcher in Dingle, Jerry Kennedy and cooked in a vague respect to a recipe suggested by Skye Gyngell the Australian chef that I seem to most empathise with ( I wonder if the fact she is a dry alcoholic might influence my leaning?!)  Even though her heritage is  at the other end of the world to me and her flavour appreciation is completely different to mine, there is most certainly something about how she handles ingredients and what she manages to get from them. The book I have of hers is titled ‘My favourite ingredients’ and simply moves through suggested uses for these so you have things like Asparagus, cherries, olive oil,vinegar, leaves, citrus, game, honey and chocolate to name several. What I like most is her singular approach, honing in on a certain flavour and seeing where it goes depending on how it is handled. Thursday I brewed our’ Riasc Black’ which we did for the first time last year as a porter with the addition of blackberries, the other day, thanks to the nimble picking fingers of my 71 year old mother Norah I added blackcurrants, both added at the end of boil with the copper heat turned swiftly off.

Going back to that quail by the way, its flavour both nutty and oily,  boy, did I work to extract all the meat I could get from it. Thankful I was in my own company with no one looking on in disgust as I fought successfully to  strip the meat from the carcass.

Inclined as an artist and human being for that matter, I tend to hone in on certain things, torsos intrigue me. They are the centre of our physique holding our heart, breath, blance and core. Fixating on the botanicals and when they might  be added in order to effect best the flavour of our beers is a constant if recent occupation of mine…….

 

Summer finally upon us and then it’s Solstice

With summer finally showing it’s face things have  heated up. There was the first Beer Festival help in the INEC last weekend before last in Killarney by all accounts quite a success. I attended myself and was very impressed with the overall running of the festival, I imagine it going from strength to strength over the course of the next few years. It was a delight to have an event of its scale so close to home, very well attended and professionally run.

And then there is the summer solstice come so quickly as always I find I wait all winter and spring for long evenings and when they arrive they are going just as fast, like a welcome visitor who needs to be else where. Somehow it is constantly overcast at this time of year so the delights within the sky are concealed and keep hidden from view.

On a personal front, I have had an extraordinary past number of days, disastrous involvements with vehicles, walls, people in authority and a child who decided to test her high-rise balance expertise!…….The outcome……..all good, said child back home, mending under my wing as it should be. And me, well I get to be a MOM again….fun times!! Funnily as a parent I remember at the time after her birth thinking….”oh shit, what have I done, I will never have a life again”! Now that she is gone I think…”Oh shit, what just happened, I will never have a life again”! What is it with us humans that the grass is always greener else where?!   I digress I think I am supposed to be talking beer… Brewed yesterday, a new recipe with the RDS Festival in mind at the end of Aug. Really want to get independence into our beers, on the edge physically and mentally, individualistic , maverick, avant-garde, anarchistic, cultural, all these states and yet part of a community on our own terms. What does wild independence taste like?! Now there’s a thought! Anyway, had fun yesterday………….

 

 

International Women’s Day

This day last year a collaboration brew took place in the Metal Man brewery in Waterford where Gráinne hosted the Brew of a 4% IPA called Unite. There really aren’t a lot of women involved in the craft brewing industry so it was a small affair.  Not that that mattered,
from where I stand no matter what we do as women we are always in the minority, in business,  the arts or politics for example. My feeling is to celebrate our differences, those differences between men and women, we are equal, in the sense that we are parallel, running along similar journeys. Inequality in the treatment of women is to be outlawed in all regards and should not be tolerated in anyway but creating quotas to boost the presence of women in various occupations I think embarks on a slippery slope of mediocrity? I am questioning here as perhaps I misunderstand what can be achieved by such quotas. Being true to ourselves and holding onto independent thought should take precedence over gender.

Friday evening beers in Kennedy’s Bar Dingle

Friday beer in Kennedy's
beer lacing

The necessary ingredients have been ordered for this recipe swap we are planning.

It looks like we will miss Christmas and will head for an early January release instead. Things have moved also in terms of how we will dispense our beer with the arrival of our first pallet of 30 litre kegs, our brewing needs to increase in order to get more out there.

Now we will be keging, casking and bottling all done manually so not quite sure how all that will pan out.

Brendan is making us a keg/cask washer of sorts something not too expensive, I seem to be doing a lot of spending of money we don’t have, lots of mental fabrication of money going on!!

Hopefully I can manage to stay ahead of the posse in this regard.

Friday evening beer in Kennedy's Dingle
Friday evening beer in Kennedy’s Dingle

The week culminated in a delicious few beers in Kennedy’s Bar, Dingle. A couple of which were ours!

I was also surprised by a pumpkin beer from Trouble Brewing, not usually drawn to flavoured beers, I was in need of a warm up as the evening was rather damp and particularly cold, so the cinnamon was just the job hitting the spot!

And on reading their blurb on the back, it was pleasantly surprising to read that they grow and roast their own pumpkins!! Who’d have thought!! :)

 

A trip to Burnham

 

Into the sun in Burnham Oct/14
Into the sun in Burnham Oct/14

 

Burnham has been a longtime favourite place of mine. It is on the way to Ventry village from Dingle on the left in the mouth of the harbour a river runs into it and as far as I can gather it is the only place on the peninsula where trees are found in abundance. Trees along with fresh water and the sea, a wonderful combination, the treasure of mussels feeding on the causeway, derelict and broken now, a remnant from Lord Ventry. It was Pádraig who introduced me to the place and I have enjoyed picking cleaning and eating those mussels many times over the years.

The place itself is a teeming full-bodied experience to the senses, visually stimulating, sweet smells of decay filling and pulsating around the shores. Intermittent sounds of singing birds with an ever so real sense of the mysterious and exotic. Magical.

19 Oct 14

from the top of Márthain 10 Oct 14 Blaskets
from the top of Márthain 10 Oct 14 Blasket Islands

The adjoining photograph taken and enjoyed on a trip up Márthain over a week ago, the place where I scattered Pádraig’s ashes 13 years ago, our daughter Maude was 5, she struggled with the ascent and I stopped short of the top that time. His mother Máirin, in her early 70’s waited at the bottom, just we three were there for the event, a private affair till now. As I scattered the grey dust over the heather Maude picked up a handful and asked “could this be his nose?” we both looked and disagreed, the handful was too small, so she scooped up more, we were then both satisfied, yes that was his nose.

 

 

 

 

The brewing with our new equipment is proving very rewarding, with the increased production capacity I have gone ahead and ordered 30L kegs. This is a move for us and we mulled over it a while, we primarily wished to stay with in the cask market, but it doesn’t really exist in Ireland, yet. It was all well and good when we had the pub open and could satisfy those passing visitors who were more than willing to try traditional beer. Now our priorities are shifting  and getting our beer out there is paramount, figuring out how to do that while maintaining standards,tastes and breaking even is very challenging.

A lot of breweries  are using the key kegs and we had briefly considered them also, but a conversation with Peter Mosley of the Porterhouse, reminded me of their un-environmental impact, being recyclable doesn’t cut it. Hence our first order of a pallet of kegs, an investment, hopefully if we are to survive for any length of time. As Peter pointed out, he has kegs as old as himself!

The time line is probably going to be about 3 weeks.

In the mean time we hope to send another pallet of bottles to Grand Cru, potentially with a few casks. We sent a mixed pallet of bottles up last week and Wally has requested some more whenever ready.

 

New brewery 13/08/14

Maude and Paul

Maude and Paul

A great day to be remembered with the arrival of our new tanks and Maude receives her Leaving Certificate results. We are so proud of her, there are so many pressures on young people to fit in and follow traditional norms, I for one am delighted that she has completed that inane curriculum called the Leaving Certificate, at least going to college you get to choose courses and topics that may have some relevance and meaning to yourself.

Changes all around, so refreshing, really keeps the mind interested and curious about going forward……….


Daniel and PaulIMG_0175