This is Maurice and my kid, Sulo. That blurrier guy in the background is Twig. Twig and Maurice own a brewery in Ireland called Canvas. It may not look like it, but we’re on a brewery tour.
Twig is an active member in GBH’s Fervent Few community. Through the Fervent Few Slack channel, I’ve learned a bit about him and the brewery. Twig was also on GBH’s podcast, which is where we all learned how they used up all of their money buying 100 red wine oak barrels before having any beer to sell—nevermind a license to make it.
Twig picked up our family in Dublin and took the scenic route through the Slieve Bloom mountains in the central plain of Ireland. During the ride, Twig talked about everything. He talked a lot. At some point we were talking about heritage and families. I mentioned that when I got married I took my wife’s surname. Twig started laughing loudly. For a short moment I was afraid some misogynist shit was going to surface behind the laughter. Instead, he started yelling, “GET OUT OF HERE! I DID THE SAME! NO ONE DOES IT HERE!” I started thinking that this might be more than just a brewery tour.
When we arrived at the farm, my intuition turned out to be correct. We spent maybe two minutes with the brewhouse, and I took zero pictures of it. Instead, we spent hours roaming the farm and the fields. While trying to keep the kids from stepping in sheep shit, I listened to Maurice talking about the trees. There are a lot of trees on the farm, and somehow he managed to tell an engaging story about every single one of them.
After climbing several stone walls, we arrived at an old, abandoned hut. Standing inside, blank and dusty beer bottles were handed to us. Maurice described how the hut's building material had been collected and constructed around the hill we were standing on. The beer was a Red Farmhouse Ale fermented in one of the abovementioned wine barrels.
Fifteen minutes before taking this picture, Maurice and Twig were sharing stories with my wife. The kids were balancing on one of the stone walls. I was in the hut pretending to take a picture of the beer bottles. In reality, my brain was wrestling to connect the dots: Maurice, Twig, the farm, my family, and the beer—it was all entwined in my brain. A simple task like walking outside the hut felt like crossing the Amazon without a machete. So I just sat still and sipped the beer.