Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Clay for Beer
Haven't been able to warm my bones since the freezing temperatures from last weekend. In an effort to conserve, I have the temperature set at 55 degrees, and the drafty old farmhouse is trying to kill me with hypothermia. As I finish up the business plan for Brewery Hall, and review a potential client's information, my thoughts turned to beer mugs. I have been meaning to spend some time researching locally made mugs for our "mug club" at the brewery. After a bit of googling and seeing some just OK stuff, I happened upon Hatchville Pottery in Falmouth, Massachusetts and stopped. I used to play in the mud back when I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, in fact in the long buried old ceramics studio there I had my first Anchor Steam Beer in about 1983. I walked in for class in the first week, and this cheery guy smiles and asks if I want a beer. I knew then I had picked the right school, but more importantly, that beer helped me along to my ultimate calling; craft brewing. I loved pottery, and as the renovated Asian wing at the MFA opened when I was in school, I was exposed to Japanese ceramics and glazes. That's what I find appealing about Hollis Engley's style; he works deftly within the ideals of this particular discipline. Organic, natural, relaxed forms and glazes. Very zen, and hard for the non-appreciating public to understand at times. But the pots look like they were born of the earth; they are earth after all, and the human hand and mind must be sympathetic and bound to this to succeed. What may look a bit "sloppy" to the unaware, is in fact the potter's connection to a deeper force; to let go of the desire to throw a precise, clean and accurate pot (although that requires skill as well), and allow that tantalizing chaos seep in and capture the essence of clay. Never mind the alchemy of glazing! I would love to drink beer from such a pot, and I am sure I will.