What in the World?
What is this “Pretty Things” all about? Who is behind all this nonsense anyway?
Well, first of all let’s begin with some facts:
1. Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project is not a brewery: we’d love a brewery, but we can’t afford to build one. So…
2. We made our company a Project: because Projects can change, they can end, they can do crazy things, they aren’t tied to bricks and mortar, so we can be a bit free and quirky in our business. We rent other people’s brewhouses. Dann brews all our beer in other people’s breweries, with Martha’s help. The host breweries package our beers for us, which is just as well because we’re rubbish at running bottling lines.
3. After the brewday, our host brewery helps us a LOT: they monitor the fermentation, transfer the beer to bright tanks and package our beers for us. And we love them for it. We are very fond of the folks at our host brewery, which is Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport, MA.
OK, but what about the fun and creative stuff? Here it is!
It all began in the VFW Hall in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, where Dann & Martha met at NERAX, a Real Ale festival. They moved to Yorkshire, England, and Dann brewed at Daleside, a small real ale brewery in Harrogate. On the weekends they’d explore the nearby Moors and Dales and the towns and pubs that are dotted amongst them. They drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of fish and chips. They spent many nights talking and dreaming about beer and brewing.
One of these Yorkshire towns is Ripon, home to a fantastic cathedral, which stands guard over an ancient Saxon crypt built around 650AD by St Wilfrid. But for us, the jewels of the cathedral are the 15th century misericord carvings in the choir. Pigs play the bagpipes, swimmers are snatched by sea monsters, apes fight lions and Pliny’s mysterious “Blemya” inhabit this magical world. These carvings struck a chord with Dann & Martha because they are vivid, ancient, insanely full of personality, and fun. Fun is an important word to us.
The volunteers who work at the cathedral will point out that Lewis Carroll’s father was a residential Canon at Ripon in the 1850’s, and one carving shows a griffin chasing a rabbit down a hole. So we weren’t the first to be inspired by these carvings: heck, you should visit Ripon yourself, who knows what you might come up with!
So, what’s the point of this story? The point is that being hard-up, homesick, and working all day with your hands can lead to some amazing imaginings. Dann was a bit creatively stifled by the British beer styles, and he began to pour out ideas for beers in the form of mythical creatures, drawings, and rambling prose. Between roasting all manner of delicious Yorkshire meats, Martha chipped in too. Jack D’Or was born: barley personified, a wise, sombre, mythical barleycorn whose name means “Jack of Gold”. A wise old grain in the form of a blemya, Jack has roots in Yorkshire, in Ripon, and in Belgium where monks from Yorkshire took the brewing craft.
But Jack stands on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, where he was brought and given many new leases on life. With a great, gleaming moustache, knee-deep in a wooden mash tun, he conjures himself into beer. Helped along by the other “Pretty Things”, the mischievous hops and the transformative miniscules we know as yeast – a magnificent fester will no doubt ensue! One of the most joyful transformations in nature, better than any rabbit from a hat, beer is the result.
This is the inspiration of Pretty Things! These beers are for fun, not for display! Our beers are not precious jewels, they are happy peasants! Our motto is “Good Time Artisanal Beers”: hold us to it!