Taste a Wiccan’s brew
Culhane cut costs by doing much of the construction on the 1,000-square-foot Sidhe taproom herself. She custom welded their keg washer and pieced together a modular two-barrel system that rolls to fit the claustrophobic brew floor. She even hung the sheetrock herself, earning her a four-inch scar on her palm after a ladder slipped out from under her.
Doing the contracting herself allowed Culhane to imbue the space with another important facet of her personality: Wicca. Everything Culhane can’t guarantee with her scientific background is treated by her brand of eclectic pagan magic. To ward off what she calls “icky energy and spirits of ill intent,” she buried crystals in the corners of the taproom—citrine for success and personal power; rose quartz for love and hospitality.
“I put a lot of my own soul into it,” Culhane said, who’s been a practitioner of Eclectic Wicca for a decade. “Brewing is in fact a sacred activity, and I treat it as such.”
Wicca is an indelible symbol in Sidhe’s branding; its logo shows a pentacle—a trademark Wiccan emblem—balanced by the core elements of earth, wind, water, and fire. This belief is also represented on the wall behind the bar, where a nymphic deity is painted in blue light and hung next to the four flags. Of the many tenets of Sidhe’s identity, Wicca is the one that has the strongest elemental link to the process of beermaking.
“Wicca has a one-to-one correspondence with brewing,” Culhane said. “When you combine air, earth, fire, and water in a magical ritual, you create a fifth element, which is spirit. The same thing happens with beer, where you combine hops, grain, yeast, and water to make alcohol.”
Every single batch pumped out of Sidhe’s system is warded with a ritual that Culhane wrote for her brewery. Culhane performs the ritual on a makeshift altar she built on a toolbox on her brew floor. To ward the beer, Culhane invokes Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of grain and brewing, as the female deity. For the male deity, she invokes Aegir, a Norse sea god famed for throwing magnificent beer banquets.
“That just seemed to fit my intent for the space,” Culhane said. “We have actually achieved my desired goal for this space. It is warm, it is welcoming, and people notice it right away.”
If Sidhe Brewing proves anything, it’s that alchemy is effective. There is transformative power in sitting at the axis between worlds. By combining culture and custom, gender and sexuality, and science and magic, Sidhe is crossing boundaries—because that’s exactly what beer was invented to do.
“We want people to interact with each other,” Culhane said. “My product is a lubricant, but the interaction is what’s important.”