Sometimes a question comes my way that is difficult for me to make up an answer that makes it seem like I know what I’m talking about. Such questions include “Why?” (-as it comes from my 7 year old son Noll) and “What’s New?” (-as it pertains to Patrons at the Brewery).
It may seem like I should know how to respond to “What’s New?” in the brewery – I mean, I work there and boss myself around right? But this long-winded blog post is in direct contradiction of such. So! What is the problemo? The problem is the notion of “New” as I take it to relate to our Brewery’s Basic Brewing Beliefs- or the 4B program I just invented in this sentence.
We, the brew people of Civil Life Brewery, (Troy, Seymour, Me, Brandon- who broke my heart, and Mike- who broke my heart and then fixed it) use the 4B program to assert our position amongst the vast field of Classic Beer Styles. I have found in life (just as I’m typing this) that seeking out the best examples of whatever is around you, researching those examples, and then improvising upon them reveals the uniqueness that only you can bring to the table. Making it up as you go is a sure fire way to end up parroting something else to give merit to what you’ve done. The lesson is provided by the Master Himself- the Late-Great David Bowie who played himself in the movie Zoolander. “Now, this will be a straight walk-off, old school rules. First model walks; second model duplicates, then elaborates.” Some day I will be learning from non-2001 PG-13 Comedies, but hey man it made 60.8 million dollars.
So, “What’s New?” Dylan?
Well, we are making 3 beers to celebrate one more trip around the sun! The beer styles though have been coming to us for thousands of years from the introduction of agriculture and civilization (first model walks). Decades of brewers have been honoring their craft and forging these native brews into regional specialties that have become truer, more precise renderings of what is “Classic” (second model duplicates). We are now elaborating. See how “New” gets tricky?
The 3 beers are effectively APA, Extra Stout, and Oatmeal Brown (which isn’t a BJCP style yet but a rose is a rose is a rose). They aren’t “new” in the fact that we’ve not invented anything, but rather (I hope) they simply provide us the chance to channel things that we enjoy about other beers and perhaps find something unique that can only come from the team right here at 3714 Holt.
I realize I haven’t really exactly explained the 4B program but it has taken me right up until this sentence to really begin to see it. I mean it was just realized three paragraphs ago. If anything, it is not about wishing that beer were something else (I blame the Glade Company. Did you know your living room can smell like N#1 Enraptured? A sensorial tangle of Jasmine, Cedarwood, Apples and Rose Petals?). My living room smells like Legos and bills. Reality Bites (1994 PG-13 Drama Romance, 20 million).
The Venn diagram of Water, Malt, Hops, Yeast, and our Brewery represents an immeasurable depth of possibility. None of this is to say that new (to us or others) ingredients, techniques, tools, etc, run counter to the 4B program- they simply can’t define it. Just as it appears I can’t define it according to a brief re-read of the previous paragraphs even though 4 paragraphs ago I said “we use the 4B program to assert our position amongst the vast field of Classic Beer Styles”. (Back to the Future, 1985, PG, 381.1 million.)
I still feel like there is so much to learn about how to run our own brewery, increase its production, work safely and with new materials and tools that I am really looking forward to the constant elaboration that has gotten us to this point. I look to the years past in which we began this brewery undertaking and I can see even then many attitudes, friendships, hopes, and dreams that help muster us forward despite the bumps and bruises that come with it all. After all, searching to find new meaning in what you do and who you are is the task of a lifetime (Groundhog Day, 1993, PG, 70.9 million).
From early on, the Civil Life has hosted a book club on Monday nights. The pub is closed to normal business, so we have the space to ourselves to discuss books and, of course, have a couple of pints (or glasses of wine). This year was the first with a theme. The year of Dante will come to a close Monday 11 December 2017 as we discuss Paradiso, the final book of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Next year, we will have another guiding theme and will again meet just three times. We will be reading three different selections by women who were associated with the surrealist movement. All three of these women were known primarily for their artwork, but they produced great writing that was overshadowed by the better-known male figures who dominated the surrealist movement.
Many people dismiss surrealism as melting clocks and nonsense, but it is keenly concerned with getting beyond (or beneath) “sense,” and exploring the darkest and most rewarding corners of the unconscious, often employing dream imagery.
16 April 2018
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
First we will read The Hearing Trumpet, a delightful short novel by Leonora Carrington. The 92-year-old protagonist Marian Leatherby receives a silver and mother of pearl encrusted hearing trumpet from her good friend Carmella, and, when she places it to her ear, she learns of her family’s plan to ship her off to an institution run by the Well of Light Brotherhood and financed by a “prominent American cereal company.” Expect to laugh out loud as Marian learns about the mysterious past of the institution and the winking abbess portrayed in oil in the dining room. That surrealist wink starts a chain of events that will turn the institution upside down.
13 August 2018
The Crying of the Wind: Ireland by Ithell Colquhoun
Ithell Colquhoun, who was expelled from the English surrealists for occult practices, will be our tour guide through Ireland in this one-of-a-kind piece of travel writing. Her pagan/pantheistic sense of the natural world gives her account of her Irish travels in the mid-twentieth century a strange timelessness. Her style has a rare elegance and her quirky personality is immensely appealing.
10 December 2018
The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems by Mina Loy
We will finish the year with a collection of poetry by Mina Loy, described by Wikipedia as “artist, writer, poet, playwright, novelist, futurist, feminist, designer of lamps, and bohemian.” Long out of print, Loy’s strange and beautiful poetry was rereleased in the late 1990s. Both her style and her subject matter shocked many, but the greatest poets of her day, including T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams, considered her an artistic equal. The introduction states, “In order to read her with profit, you need at least four things: patience, intelligence, experience, and a dictionary.” Don’t be intimidated by the work (or poetry in general). To paraphrase Archibald MacLeish, a poem doesn’t mean a thing, it is a thing. Enjoy the music in Loy’s language and pick some pieces to read over a few times.
See you next year! Until then, happy reading.
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.