Friday, 8 August 2014

traditional brewing

I was brought up on the euphoric effects of traditional elderflower beer and elderberry wine, brewed by my Welsh father.  When, as a teenager, I began to drink out in pubs and clubs I was shocked by how different the impact was on me and also by the ensuing hangovers. Traditional alcoholic beverages have far more than the one dimensional effect of modern commercial alcoholic drinks.   Although these brews were very much part of my growing up I had stopped thinking about my  experiences with them until recently, when we began our  project with jun, the traditional herbal honey brew.  My youthful experiences, which I never really began to explain to anyone, are now making sense.

In 'Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers' Stephen Harrod Buhner explains how fermenting many herbs actually makes them psychotropic i.e. effecting the mind or mood. Of course, in our current cerebrally (left hemisphere) dominated state psychotropic herbs can help stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain and connect us to our creative, intuitive, spiritually connected state. Thus the word 'spirits' for alcoholic drinks which traditionally were a psychoactive experience.

Recently I have been asking my Dad for more details about his experiences growing up in South Wales more than eighty years ago.  He recalls how it was his father's job each morning to go out and collect water running off the hillsides at a convenient place where it ran over  a rock to supply the day's water needs for the family.  They had no electricity and used oil lamps.  The wireless was a recent introduction.  He explained how he learnt to brew these elder beers and wines from his parents who were following the example of many generations before, going back hundreds of years.  Living in remote areas, purchasing alcoholic drinks would have been out of the question.  He recalled with a glint in his eye the effects of these brews.

Elder is one of the plants traditionally used in Britain for brewing. Earlier in the summer we gathered elderflowers in the lanes and by the river Brue where we live in rural Somerset. The brew we made was so delicious we just knew it had to become our sixth variety of jun and on reading about the use of heather in traditional ancient and sacred British brews we decided to combine the two for a delicious new flower beverage also with Mayan Lily, Blue Lily, Sacred Lotus, wild fennel, guayusa, yerba mate, sage and lapsang souchong and made the most delicious brew, Wild Floral Working with the spirits of the plants reminds us about the real meaning of the word 'spirit' in connection to alcoholic drinks. I have very much felt the spirits of the ancestors around whilst we have been doing this, in particular that of my father, now an elderly man and in a dreamy state.

No comments:

Post a Comment