Dedication

Trappist

In 1664 in La Trappe Abbey, Normandy, France, a religious reform movement began.  Monks who were dismayed by the relaxation of rules formed the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.  The went back to the original monastic rules of St. Benedict.

The 48th Rule of St Benedict states ‘for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands’ and the OCSO set out early on to devote themselves to excellence in what they did.  They made goods for sale, including cheese, bread, clothing etc.  They hit the jackpot when they moved into brewing.  OCSO is a bit of a mouthful, and so is the beer they made.  They rebranded as “Trappists” and continue to make some of the best beers in the world.

Last night I nipped over to the barn and bottled up my latest brew.  12 litres of trappist style beer.  A mahogany coloured ale, rich and malty, thick and foamy already even though it needs in bottle fermentation to condition it.  I can’t wait till it’s ready.

There is a lot to be said for dedication to excellence in your work.  Then again there’s more to be said for drinking beer.

Some people think Trappists take a vow of silence.  This is not true.  They just don’t waste words.  It has all been said, but there is plenty left to drink.

 

Beer; by Charles Bukowski

I don’t know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
“what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!”

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there’s beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
rolling
clanking
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

beer
rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

Bucket List #2

Brewing Bucket

So again, I have one of these.  My bucket list is a list of stories about buckets and their place in my life (in case you haven’t guessed yet).

So roll back to the year 1977.  I feel sure that was the year, but I am open to correction.  My oldest brother Jerry got married.  I wore a kind of safari style jacket that my mother made, and a pair of brown flares.  Flares were not just “in fashion” in 1977, they were all you could buy.  I hated flares, but there seemed to be no alternative.

The jacket was god-awful too.  I have my own self to blame for that I guess.  My mother asked what I would like to wear for the wedding.  I was very into things african, safaris, Daktari, Born Free and all that guff.  I had ambitions to become a game park ranger when I grew up.  So I asked for a Safari jacket.  I knew the moment that she bought the cloth for it that she was way off the mark.  But I didn’t have the heart to upset my mother by pointing out that she hadn’t a clue.  She wanted me to look neat and well dressed.  I wanted to look beat, worn, creased, just off a dusty landrover.

Looking back I see now that I was in the early stages of my love affair with punk.  I was rejecting the glamour and sparkle of the disco era.  I wanted to disrupt, to break out, to smash convention.  I was just that little bit too young.  This was the year punk erupted on the scene in Ireland.  The Boomtown Rats released “Looking After Number 1” and the music world changed completely.

So what has all this to do with large white plastic buckets?  Anyone who grew up in a large family has experienced the joy of what happens when someone gets married.  There were nine of us sharing four bedrooms.  The departure of Jerry opened up a bed, and for the first time in my life I did not have to share one with my younger brother.  My own bed.  And only two of us in the room.  I felt like Hitler expanding into Poland.

And since I was taking over Jerry’s bed I was not going to stop there.  Jerry had a beer and wine making operation up and running.  When he moved out I moved in.  I had a ready made inventory of demi-jons, a pressure barrel, wine and beer bottles, crown corks, barley, hops, malt, hydrometer, thermometer and …….you guessed it…..fermentation vessels.  I had a large jerry can for lager, and a big coloured plastic bin for fermentation.

I learned more about chemistry from brewing and wine making than I learned in school.  I learned about enzyme reactions, the importance of temperature control, the importance of controlling the environment, sterilization.  I was the 1970’s version of Walter White.  I kept my family in country wines and beers for many years.  I deviated into mead and it’s derivatives, and developed a taste for Metheglin.  I made cordials and in turn used them to create cocktails.  It was a marvelous education.

Over the years what with kids and career, my brewing activities declined.  Dust gathered on the kit.  Then, when we converted our garage in Clontarf into a den for the kids the brewing gear was just in the way.  I sold it off.

Last Christmas my Daughter pulled me for her Kris Kindle.  To my surprise she had picked up on my love of home brew from hints over the years.  She bought me a kit online.  So now once again I am brewing.  It was a fabulous present, because it unlocked all those memories of times past.  Good times, if somewhat crowded.

I almost pity my kids that they will never realize the joy of getting your very own bed.  Almost…..

 

 

 

 

Anticipation

Anticipation

Evensong; by Donal Clancy

 

The high priest raises the chalice.

Our heavenly Father.

He holds it reverentially beneath the spout.

Thy Kingdom come.

With considered deliberation he fills it to the brim.

Thy will be done.

Turning, turning, to raise the angle until the vessel is upright.

Give us this day!

Before him the congregation stands mesmerised by the ceremony.

Lead us on.

Cold Ichor meets the sultry night air and the glass surface sweats

as he lays it on the altar.

 

As it was in the beginning.

Hymn to Ninkasi

Beer

One of the oldest pieces of literature we have is the Sumerian Hymn to Ninkasi.  It is a hymn but it is also a recipe.  It is an instruction on how to make beer.

In a pre-literate society poetry, song and prayer were all useful mnemonic forms.  Encoding a recipe in a prayer makes it into a duty.   The woman of the house is bound to supply her husband with his daily bread and beer.

The beer in question was not a sparkling Czech Pilzner lager.  It probably looked more like a bowl of porridge.  Still, beer is beer, and beer is the oldest drink made by mankind.  Made by womankind more like.  In primitive tribal societies it falls to the women to make the bread and the beer.

The archaeological record demonstrates that the arrival of farming led to arthritis in knees and hips, elbows and wrists, particularly for women.  They spent a good part of every day on hands and knees with a quern stone grinding wheat and barley.

The men became priests and were clever enough to turn the production of Bread and Beer into religious duties.  That made a reluctant wife into a blasphemer.  It was a control mechanism to keep women in line.

However if its’s blasphemy you want deny beer to a poet.  The pen is mightier than the sword and hell hath no fury like a thirsty poet.

 

A Glass of Beer ; by James Stephens

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
may the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair
and beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled imp, with the hardest jaw you will ever see
on virtue’s path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
and threw me out of the house on the back of my head.

If I asked her master he’d give me a cask a day;
but she with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten and may
the high king of glory permit her to get the mange.

 

 

An Ode to Mid-May

Study

The sun dies slowly on another shimmering day.

The soil pants relief from the parching heat.

From cool resting places the night crawlers appear,

rats, roaches, bats, foxes.

The student also leaves his nest,

of books and notes and weighty thoughts.

He lifts his weary eyes to a cool refreshing breeze,

and sets off for the pub.

Copyright D. Clancy (1987)

.

Original note from my diary:

The financial proceeds from this poem are to be used to create a grant enabling a worthy impoverished student of an Irish university to afford a pint of beer a day for the college year.

Food Island

Clonmacnoise_castle_and_cattle

Ireland is a food island.  We have this fantastic mild climate, with a long spring and autumn and an incredible growing season.  Cattle and sheep thrive on fresh grass, and we have a very short wintering period.  This makes Ireland ideal for production of Beef, Dairy and Lamb.  The byproducts of the dairy industry supply inputs for pig and fowl rearing.

We also have a great climate for growing barley.  Ireland sits at the western end of the “beer belt” which stretches to Slovakia and includes the UK, north eastern France, the Benelux, Germany, southern Poland and the Czech republic.  In this belt you can grow good malting barley and make great beer, and whiskey.  Go south of the beer belt and the climate lends itself to grapes, so you get wine and brandy.  Go north of the beer belt and you are into grain alcohol country, where they produce various versions of Aquavit or Vodka in Scandinavia Poland, Russia and the Baltic Republics.

Given Ireland’s unique position on the Atlantic we SHOULD have the least polluted food production system in Western Europe.  At a political level this should be a number 1 priority.  It has not been!  We have seen scandal after scandal as standards have been allowed to slip.  We have adopted industrial food production short cuts from the USA, Britain and Central Europe.  This has to stop.  Irish food should be the purest food in the world.  We should concentrate on value add, not on mass production.  We should be the envy of food producers everywhere.  The badge of Ireland on food should be synonymous with purity, nature, traditional production, humane farming practices, free range, fed on grass watered by Atlantic rainfall.

Irish beef should command prices higher than Kobe beef.  We are nuclear free and we don’t house our cattle for most of the year and feed it on “unnatural” feed mix.

Irish lamb should be trademarked and should command a far higher cachet than New Zealand lamb which has circled the globe and accrued an enormous carbon debt.

Irish dairy should be seen for what it is – a pure conversion of unsullied Atlantic rains, through grass fed herds, into pristine milk, cream, butter and cheese.

Any farmer, producer or food manufacturer who threatens the image of the food island of Ireland should be dunked head first in a slurry pit.  It should be a form of public entertainment, designed to underline the importance of our reputation.

Inexpensive Progress; by John Betjeman

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let’s say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
‘Keep Left,’ ‘M4,’ ‘Keep Out!’
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small ‘amenity,’
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we’ll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We’ll know that we are dead.