This years was again an “on” year for our bi-annual pilgrimage to Pennsic. I was really excited because I was given a rare opportunity to provide both alcohol to the Queen and non-alcoholic beverages to the King of the East Kingdom.
As mentioned in a previous post, the King doesn’t drink (alcohol). It gave me a rare opportunity to research alternative beverages that were both period and tasty.
Unfortunately, my kitchen at Pennsic wasn’t perfect so some improvisation had to be made due to the environment and time frame allowed to us.
I would always ask the King his opinion of the beverage after to know if it met his tastes or if it needed tweaking. I believe most of them met with his approval but I wanted to document them here for others to learn from:
Sunday we started by making a batch of Sekanjabin(1)
We used the basic 8 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water, brought it to a boil and added 1/4 cup of white vinegar. It continued to simmer for 30 min and then we broke the batches up into 5 and gave flavorings to each batch. There was Stonemarche Tea (Spearmint/Lemonbalm), Malagentian Desert (Ginger, Cinamon, Mace), Blueberry (made from dried blueberries), Orange, and Chocolate.
Sunday the first batch of sekanjabins were presented:
Not super fancy but they were ready when the King came off the fighting field.
Monday was the Russian Dancha (2)
The blueberries were fresh from NH and previously dried. I made 2 varieties to determine which would taste better. First I brought a batch of blueberries to a boil in water, drained and dried them. The second batch of blueberries were thrown straight into the dehydrator and dried more like raisins. The results were interesting:
On the left is the boiled berries which basicly became “fruit leather” and on the right we got a bunch of blueberry raisins. Both were brought to Pennsic with me. I was not surprised to find the boiled berries added more flavor because obviously the cell walls were broken and by removing the water, it was nothing but flavors sucked up by the sugars in the sekanjabin and also the tea in the Dancha.
The tea came out nice and sweet with just a back hint of blueberry. I threw some of the whole dried blueberries into the bottle for asthetics.
Tuesday was “Apple Drink with Sugar, Honey” (3)
A VERY pleasant drink is made of Apples, thus; Boil sliced Apples in water, to make the water strong of Apples, as when you make to drink it for coolness and pleasure. Sweeten it with Sugar to your tast, such a quantity of sliced Apples, as would make so much water strong enough of Apples; and then bottle it up close for three or four months. There will come a thick mother at the top, which being taken off, all the rest will be very clear, and quick and pleasant to the taste, beyond any Cider. It will be the better to most taste, if you put a very little Rosemary into the liquor, when you boil it, and a little Limon-peel into each bottle, when you bottle it up.”
So we used Auntie Arwen’s “Really Good Honey” (there’s truth in advertising for you). We did not bottle it for 3-4 months because we don’t want Cyser, we want a weak honey drink.
Wednesday was the second batch of Sekanjabins: Orange and Chocolate. Orange zest and chocolate extract from Auntie Arwen was used for this batch. Didn’t get a chance to take a picture unfortunately.
Thursday was a Mock Mead I created based off of A Clarea of Water (4). Normally this is a spiced honey water with whatever spices were locally available. I bumped it up a notch with the Coopers Lake Campground Muscat Grape Cider (available locally at the Coopers Lake Camp Store) . I added honey and spices as prescribed and then mixed them well before serving to his Majesty later that day (no pictures available, sorry)
Friday was a packing day so no non-alcoholic drink was made and the remaining sekanjabin had crystalized so I didn’t think it was worth delivering in that state.
My efforts were rewarded though. On Tuesday it was announced I had won the Bardicci Brewing Competition with my Braggot.
Then I was called into court on Wednesday and bestowed the title “Brewer to the Crown” by their Majesties. I received Her Majesties Token and the King still owes me one of his. I’m hoping to get them framed.
After returning home from Pennsic, I later discovered my Braggot, which I also entered for Paneling purposes got a 78 on the scoring so that bumps me up to “Craftsman” level in the East Kingdom Brewers Guilde.
All in all, it was a great week. There was a lot of other things that happened but they are irrelevant to the nature of this blog. I do however feel that there were several honorable mentions:
- The Chalkman Pub The Horse Piss Tavern
- Blackboar Inn Casa Bardicci (both parties)
- West Kingdom Viking Luau
- Manuscrito Anonimo_, a 13th c. cookbook
- Historical Cha no Yu” by Plutchow
- The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened
- Libro de Guisados – 13th c.
10/1/2017 Update: Got my second coin and have mounted them for display: