Friday, December 18, 2015

The Alewife's Pottery and Apothecary

Maybe you have noticed my large ceramic sign at the market and wondered what the hell it means. You would be in good company. The term "alewife" has certainly dropped out of our lexicon and those who still use it are almost certainly referring to the fish, more commonly known around here as gaspereau.


I've been living here in the Gapsereau Valley for a while now and I have my connections to the fish, but the alewife I'm referring to is not a fish.

Alewife was the term for working women with expert knowledge in ways of using herbs and fermentation to create beverages that are nourishing and medicinal. Much of their knowledge has been lost to us over the centuries, but some remains. In the 16th century “beer purity laws” were enacted in England and Germany that limited the ingredients allowed in beer and ales. This first step in commercial control of food production led to the consolidation and large scale commercialisation of beer brewing and, for the most part, eliminated the small domestic, artisan beer producers, many of whom were women or alewives.  

These hand-sculpted, hand-carved and hand-painted ale cups are a tribute to these professional women, their knowledge and the importance of traditional knowledge.

Four years ago I made seven of these. I haven't made any since until now. This year there are 6 cups on offer. Each one is unique. $45

The Alewife's Cup


Yarrow Ale
(brewed for 700 years as commonly as hopped beer is today )

5 lbs malted barley
3 oz recently dried yarrow tops or 6 oz fresh yarrow tops (plant & flower)
6 gallons water

Mash malt with water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes. Boil the remaining water and sparge (run the heated water through the mash). Boil all with half the yarrow. Let cool to blood warm (70o F) and place in fermenter. Place remaining yarrow in a muslin bag and hang in fermenter; add yeast. Allow to ferment until complete. Prime bottles, fill and cap.
Ready to drink in 2 weeks.

from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers,
by Stephen Harrod Buhner 

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