In Ireland, a taste of the underworld
Oweynagat cave is a place of both birth and death. An unimposing gash in the ancient misty hills of north-western Ireland, it is said to be the entrance to the underworld where fairies and demons lure mortals to their doom, and the sacred birthplace of a warrior queen. For thousands of years, the Irish have regarded Oweynagat as a site of awe-inspiring magic, weaving a rich tapestry of mythology around it.
The story of the celebrated warrior Queen Medb is integral to said mythology. A beautiful, strong-willed woman known for her heroic role in the Cattle Raid of Cooley, Queen Medb was born in Oweynagat.
著名的勇士梅芙女王的故事是神话中不可或缺的一部分。 梅芙女王出生于奥维纳加，美丽且意志坚强，因其在《夺牛长征记》（Cattle Raid of Cooley）中的英雄角色而闻名。
In ancient Ireland, Celtic men and women had equal rights, and whoever brought more wealth and property to a marriage was seen as the ruler of the household, regardless of sex. As the Queen of Connacht, Medb had to power to make kings of the men who married her, a power that was later mythologised when she became known as the ‘sovereignty goddess’. Medb’s name is the old Celtic word for ‘mead’, a fermented honey beverage that was an integral part of a king’s coronation ceremony in ancient and medieval Ireland. Queen Medb came to embody the symbolic offering of the beverage to the rising monarch.
在古爱尔兰，凯尔特男女享有平等的权利，凡是为婚姻带来更多财产的人，无论性别如何，都被视为家庭的掌管者。作为康诺特省的女王，梅芙不得不使用权力让与她结婚的男人成为国王，这种权力在后来梅芙被称为“主权女神”时被神话化了。 梅芙的名字是凯尔特语中的“蜂蜜酒”，这是一种发酵的蜂蜜饮料，是古代和中世纪爱尔兰国王加冕仪式中不可或缺的一部分。梅芙女王为这位崛起的君主提供了具有象征意义的"蜂蜜酒" 。
But Medb’s name has another meaning – ‘she who intoxicates’ – and intoxicating, she certainly was. Celtic women, unlike their counterparts in other ancient European nations, were not bound by the rules of monogamy and were free to take lovers. Medb had many paramours, most of whom were high-ranking officials in her army. Their selection as the Queen’s lovers was based at once both in passion and in strategy. Having sexual relations with her soldiers ensured loyalty, and the promise of her love made them fight that much harder in battle.
For millennia, Queen Medb has remained the most intoxicating thing to come out of the cave. However, just this year that changed with the creation of a beer made from wild yeast cultivated from the walls of Oweynagat. Called Underworld Savage Ale for the mythic place that it was conceived, this beer is the first of its kind, with a backstory strange enough to fit within the cave’s fantastic mythology.
几千年以来，奥维纳加洞穴中最令人陶醉的要数勇士梅芙女王。然而，就在今年，该洞穴墙上培植出的一种野生酵母所酿造的啤酒改变了这一切。这种啤酒，因其神奇的培植地而被称为“地狱野蛮啤酒”（Underworld Savage Ale），他是第一种此类啤酒，背景故事足以配得上洞穴本身的奇妙神话。
Underworld Savage Ale by Black Donkey Brewery was born of the love for a good story. Last October, Black Donkey brewmaster Richard Siberry and a crew of microbiologists went on what they dubbed ‘a wild yeast chase’ in the cave, swabbing its walls and coming out with not one, but three distinct varieties of yeast.
因为对好故事的热爱，爱尔兰黑驴啤酒厂（Black Donkey Brewery）的“地狱野蛮啤酒”诞生了。去年十月，黑驴啤酒厂酿酒大师西贝瑞（Richard Siberry）和一群微生物学家在洞穴中继续他们的“探索野生酵母”行动，从墙壁上刮下三种不同的酵母品种。
Siberry and his wife Michaela Dillon founded the brewery in 2014. After years living in New York, the two Ireland natives grew homesick and decided to move to County Roscommon, not far from where Dillon grew up. “I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got back to Ireland, but one thing I knew for sure was I wasn’t going to be enjoying good beer,” said Siberry, explaining that in spite of its beer-heavy reputation, most pubs in the Emerald Isle often only carry three beers on tap: Guinness, Smithwick’s and Heineken.
西贝瑞和他的妻子狄龙（Michaela Dillon）于2014年创办了这家啤酒厂。在纽约居住多年后，两位爱尔兰人开始思念家乡并决定搬到距离狄龙故乡不远的罗斯康芒郡（County Roscommon）。西贝瑞说：“刚回到爱尔兰时，我不知道自己要做什么，但有一件事我很肯定，那就是我再也喝不到好喝的啤酒了。”尽管有啤酒，但翡翠岛（爱尔兰别名）的大多数酒吧通常只提供三种啤酒：吉尼斯啤酒（Guinness）、史密斯威克（Smithwick's）和喜力（Heineken）。
So Siberry took matters into his own hands, deciding to brew the beer he wanted to drink himself. Having been a hobbyist brewer during his stint in New York, he saw an opportunity in the relative dearth of microbreweries in Ireland, divining that the US craft beer craze would soon make its way across the Atlantic. Siberry did not want to mimic the style of American microbrews, however, deciding to break from popular IPAs and pale ales and focus on creating a singularly Irish beer.
所以西贝瑞决定亲自动手酿造自己想喝的啤酒。他在纽约期间一直是业余酿酒爱好者，他看到了爱尔兰啤酒厂相对不足，所以还有机会，也认为美国精酿啤酒热潮将很快跨越大西洋来到这里。但是， 西贝瑞不想模仿美国小酒厂的风格，决定突破流行的印度淡色艾尔啤酒（IPAs）和淡色艾尔啤酒（pale ales），专注于酿造一种独特的爱尔兰啤酒。
To do that, Siberry turned his sights to the Rathcroghan complex, a breath-taking archaeological site located just 30 minutes from the brewery. Containing 60 monuments spanning from the Neolithic Age (4000 to 2500BC) to the Iron Age (500BC to 400AD), the complex has been identified as Cruachan, the ancient capital of Connachta and seat of West Ireland royalty for two millennia. Here was where druidic priests walked in contemplation, and where Gaelic kings fought in bloody battles to protect their sovereignty.
为此，西贝瑞将目光投向了距离啤酒厂仅30分钟路程的拉斯克罗根（Rathcroghan）建筑群，这是一个令人叹为观止的考古遗址。该建筑群包含从新石器时代（公元前4000至2500年）到铁器时代（公元前500年至公元400年）的60座古迹，已被确定为康诺特省（Connachta）古都克鲁亨山（Crunhan）的旧址，也曾是西爱尔兰皇室长达两世纪的居住地。这是督伊德教牧师（druidic priests）默祷经过的地方，也是凯尔特国王们（Gaelic kings）浴血奋战保卫主权的地方。
But for all its illustrious history, Rathcroghan is best known for the Oweynagat cave, where the celebrated warrior Queen Medb was born and whose diminutive limestone mouth sits near the centre of the complex. A disproportionate amount of funerary and ceremonial monuments found at Oweynagat suggest that the cave was one of the most sacred sites within the complex.
During a meeting with Rathcroghan tourism officials, Siberry asked if it would be possible to age several barrels of ale inside the cave to see how the microbes within it might influence the recipe. Unfortunately this was logistically impossible as the cave’s opening is simply too small for a beer barrel to pass through. So Siberry decided to bring the cave to the beer by attempting to collect a wild yeast sample from within it. Equipped with sterile sampling supplies borrowed from a nearby university and, in Siberry’s words, “the love of a good story”, he and his team went into Oweynagat on Halloween of last year.
His choice of date was both brave and foolish if you believe the mythology behind Oweynagat, which in true Celtic tradition is dizzyingly complex – as frightening and unknowable as the underworld and celestial beings it describes.
These stories are the same as those told in the Rathcroghan complex thousands of years ago, before Christianity reached Ireland and when Halloween was still called by its original name: Samhain. According to Celtic mythology, Samhain is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is the thinnest, allowing preternatural beings to pass through certain portals and prey on mortals. In addition to being the birthplace of Queen Medb, Oweynagat was considered to be a passageway from which demonic pigs, fiery destroyer birds, a three-headed monster and even the Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of destruction, have been said to emerge. 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com
In the tale of Fled Bricrenn, a story from the Ulster cycle, a collection of heroic sagas and legends taking place around the 1st Century BC, three enormous cats appeared from the cave to attack the hero and his men. It was from this story that Oweynagat got its name, which is Irish Gaelic for ‘the cave of cats’.
阿尔斯特（北爱尔兰）故事集收录了公元前1世纪左右发生的英雄传奇和传说，其中一个“布里克里乌的宴会” （Fled Bricrenn）的故事描述一位英雄和他的手下受到来自洞穴中的三只巨大的猫的攻击。这个故事正是奥维纳加名字的由来，奥维纳加是爱尔兰凯尔特语（Irish Gaelic）中“猫的洞穴”的意思。
Though these myths are distinctive to Oweynagat, its label as an entrance to the underworld is not. There are three caves in Ireland, one of which being the famous St Patrick’s Purgatory in Donegal, that are said to be portals to the Celtic fairy realm or Christian hell. Tales surrounding these three mystical formations in Ireland spread across Europe during the medieval period, attracting pilgrims from the mainland, who, once arrived, would enter the ‘portals’ and spend several nights deprived of food, water and sunlight in hopes of proving their loyalty to God in the devil’s realm. Dante Alighieri, author of the 14th-Century literary masterpiece The Divine Comedy, was said to be inspired by these pilgrims’ accounts when writing Inferno, the most famous section of the epic poem.
虽然奥维纳加因这些神话而与众不同，但它作为“地狱”入口的标签却并非如此。爱尔兰有三个洞穴，其中一个洞穴是多尼戈尔著名的圣帕特里克炼狱（St Patrick's Purgatory），据说是凯尔特仙境或基督教地狱的入口。关于爱尔兰这三个神秘地下层的故事在中世纪时期被传播到整个欧洲，吸引了来自欧洲大陆的朝圣者。这些朝圣者们一到达就会进入“通道”， 希望用几个没有食物、水和阳光的夜晚来证明他们身处魔鬼领域时对上帝的忠诚。据说十四世纪文学名著《神曲》的作者但丁（Dante Alighieri）在写这部史诗最著名的《地狱篇》时就是受到这些朝圣者的启发。
Undeterred, Siberry and crew followed in the footsteps of so many County Roscommon children who enter Oweynagat each Halloween on dares, crawling on their bellies through its narrow limestone mouth. Once inside they swabbed the walls and even took clippings of the flora within. When the cultures came back with the three yeast strains, Siberry sent them off to MiCRA Biodiagnostics, a research and development facility located at the Institute of Technology Tallaght, for testing. The microbiologists there verified that all three were safe for human consumption, but one person added after observation that they’d “never seen anything that grows quite like this before – it’s very exciting, and a little scary, too.”
西贝瑞和工作人员不受干扰，沿着许多在万圣节敢于进入奥维纳加的罗斯康芒郡孩子们的脚步，趴在地上通过狭窄的石灰岩入口爬进洞口。进入洞穴口，他们刮下墙壁上的菌类，还剪下了一些植物。利用培养菌培植出三种酵母菌株后，西贝瑞将它们送到位于塔拉特技术研究所（Institute of Technology Tallaght）的研发设施“微米生物诊断”（MiCRA Biodiagnostics）进行测试。那里的微生物学家证实这三种菌株都可以安全地供人食用，但其中一位微生物学家指出他们“以前从未见过任何长成这样的东西——这令人非常兴奋，但也有点可怕”。
After a trial period, the Black Donkey crew settled on one of the three strains, naming it ‘Morrigan no. 1’ after one of the cave’s most famous residents. The wild yeast, which, according to Siberry, is not used in any other beer on the planet, is central to Underworld Savage Ale’s unique taste.
“It’s a traditional kind of farmhouse recipe,” Siberry explained. “But what really stands out in it is the yeast and the flavours it creates.” The heart of Underworld’s palate, according to Siberry, is composed of fruits of the forest with a distinct streak of citrus cutting through earthy notes of blackberry, currant and rosehip.
Underworld Savage Ale’s initial release was met with great success, but Siberry is not finished in his quest to create a wholly Irish beer. “We don’t produce any commercial hops in Ireland, but [Black Donkey Brewing] will probably research what Irish people used as a bittering agent in ancient times,” he said with enthusiasm.
Siberry reiterated that part of his quest for the wild yeast was “for the love of a good story”. It is also this aspect of Underworld Savage Ale that makes it so distinctly Irish. Conceived on the night when the veil between the spirit world and ours is thinnest, it is now a part of the rich history of Oweynagat cave.