We just started selling the F.E.S.S. churchwardens this week and I thought it might be useful to let folks know what these pipes are and what you can expect out of the box.
First, these pipes do come in an attractive box, but we don’t recommend smoking the box, so let’s look at the pipe within.
The Rusticated and Golden styles are long – 15″ long – which makes them about four inches longer than our popular Italian imports. And the #319 is about 11 3/4″ long. Unlike the Italian churchwardens, these do not have briar bowls. From what we have read, we gather the bowls are made of rosewood. And unlike our Italian imports, the F.E.S.S. pipes come from China.
They are able to achieve a long stem using a hollow metal tube with a simulated wood grain print on the outside. Sounds tacky, but doesn’t look too bad. The advantage of the metal stem is that you really never need to run a pipe cleaner through the stem. If you ever needed to clean the stem you could probably run a piece of rigid wire, like a coat hanger, and a cleaning cloth through the stem, but make sure you can extract the cloth before you try this! Otherwise you may find the draw a little tight.
Where the stem meets the shank there is a metal insert designed to stop tars and moisture from going up the stem. Inside the small mouthpiece is a 9mm filter, which can be replaced with our Blitz filters if you choose to continue using filters.
Rosewood is an interesting choice of wood, if indeed F.E.S.S. pipe are employing rosewood for the bowls. Most species of rosewood are over-harvested as is the heath root used for briar pipes. Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) is probably both dense and hard enough to produce a decent pipe bowl, but we do not know a) if rosewood is being used, b) what variety is being used if it is, or c) if this variety is endangered.
We do not always know the details of every item we bring on board before we have them in stock. Our buyer, Bozo the Bazaar, doesn’t always check with us before placing an order and after a few beers, doesn’t remember what he ordered, when, or how much he booked us for. But he has a weird nose, a long 60’s ponytail, and we love him.
Anyway, we know from the box, that these are wood pipes and we know hardwoods have been used over the years to make tobacco pipes. We hope some of you reading this will be enticed into trying these pipes and when you do you will see the pre-carbonized bowl. We still urge you to follow standard breaking in procedures before going full bowl ahead with these pipes. The wood may burn easier than you expect, or not, we don’t know. Give us a week so we can test them out. Also, try smoking these slowly rather than hot and fast and you should find these will smoke as well as your briar pipes.
I plan to test these out and report back in a future episode of Brewing Smoke.
Bye the way, these pipes are on sale through the end of November!