Brewing beer may be an older craft than we realized in some places — Ancientfoods

Grain cell changes from malting help identify which ancient populations crafted local brews By Maria Temming Science news.org Microscopic signatures of malting could help reveal which prehistoric people had a taste for beer. Ancient beer is difficult to trace, because many of beer’s chemical ingredients, like alcohol, don’t preserve well (SN: 9/28/04). But a new […]

via Brewing beer may be an older craft than we realized in some places — Ancientfoods

SQUARE ROMAN GLASS BOTTLE — Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

Square Roman Bottle of Henk-Martin Goldschmidt collection Date: 1st century AD Dimensions: Height: 10.4 cm, 5.4 cm x 5.4 cm, Weight: 89 g Description: Bottle or jug of translucent sea-green glass. Square body with horizontal shoulder, rounded to the four straight walls. Cylindrical neck. Flaring mouth with inwardly folded rim. Solid and very wide strap […]

via SQUARE ROMAN GLASS BOTTLE — Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

Hop Redesign 2020

My posting has been reduced a bit due to the Coronovirus issues around us.  Access to places which carry supplies for brewing are considered “Non-Essential” thus some of my projects have been pushed to the background.  On top of this, I have all the alcohol beverages made last fall filling kegs that normally are available by now for new product.  Some of that batch is turning because I don’t even have enough containers to move it into secondaries.  Fall was very prosperous, Spring, not so much.
So we move into my prep phase for this next year’s brews.  Case in point, i’m going to talk about new trends with the Hops (yes, I know this is like getting Rick Rolled every year).

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2012  Batch (The eventual goal again!)

Roughly 20 years ago, my friend Magnus welcomed me to town with a couple of rhyzomes from his hop plants in his yard.  He told me they were Tettnanger (one of the 4 noble hops) and I immediately planted it in the corner of my garden that year with sticks for it to climb.  I had a small crop but over the following years it kept increasing until I maxed out in 2012.

Each year there after the batches have become smaller and smaller until this last year where we had only the small bowl full you see in front.  That was enough for one brew session and then it was gone.  Over the years, the trees on that side of the house were getting thicker and taking up more sun causing long periods of shade in the morning.  By Noon, the hops got a mere 2 hrs of direct sunlight and then by 3 pm the house was blocking the base of the hop plants and by 6pm the sun was lower than the tree line.  We also had a bit of a drought in 2017 and lets face it, the ground these plants were in were going on 19 years without replenishment to the soil.  Hops are notorious for sucking nitrogen and any nutrients.  Pair that with a lack of water and it was clear something needed to change this year.

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We had a bit of work ahead of us. The grass had gotten an early start. I first had to clear the clover and all it’s various weed friends.  There was a lot of alehoof growing in there as well which took it as it’s personal job to carpet the area.  I knew this would choke out any hops from succeeding so I spent my entire Saturday afternoon searching and cutting huge clots of grass/alehoof from the ground, shaking out the dirt and tossing it to expose the depleted earth below it.  Along the way shoots of hops were popping up and required some creative lawn surgery to remove the hop, stick it into a temporary pot and shake the dirt out of the clump of weeds before overhand tossing it into the compost pile.

I’ve repotted each of the rhyzomes to encourage their own growth.  With a generous 20200506_194623132025458792670773.jpgamount of fresh soil and water, they are outside gaining some independence while i’m prepping the ground they’ll eventually go back into.

I’ve also decided to claim more space in the garden.  Up to this point, I’ve had a 8×8 plot where the hops have held their own.  As you can see in the picture, we now have about 21 rhyzomes that could use more space and would allow us to extend the number of strings we run.  With 21 strings, we’re looking for enough space that 3 rows of 7 can be 20200507_1253067095809989209119789.jpg20200506_1946079204089258540628735.jpgset up without competing for what little sun they normally get.  Now instead of the North/South orientation, we’re going to do an East/West run which will hopefully get more sun to the plants. With a generous dose of sheep fertilizer and a good watering, it’s all ready for the rototiller to come through and mix it together.  After which, we’ll replant the hops and our season will be fruitful but probably another small batch year as new ryzomes tend not to produce a lot of hops their first year.

Yes, we’ve effectively brought ourselves back to year 01 but with more plants.

At the other end of the garden is our lone over achiever which has been started on the tripod again.  This plant is almost always submerged in a puddle of water but it’s farther back and tended to not be in the shade of the house or tree line, producing a much better crop from year to year.

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Check back in September when we see what kind of harvest is produced.

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Bad Beer Economy? Have a Plague!

Image result for Black Plague

With all the talk of the Coronavirus being the next big “Plague” to sweep the earth, I got to thinking about how Plagues in the past had effectively changed the way beer is produced, drank and enjoyed today. I know Morbid right? Work with me here.

Monasteries were some of the first large scale brewers in England and used the production of Ale to finance their Church. In some cases the Church received grain as tithes from farmers. Wheat, Barley and Dredge were predominate styles of Ale before the Black Death of 1300s. Dredge was barley and oats planted together but not mixed after harvesting. Whether they were added to the brew at different points is unclear but the combination would make for a dark creamy beer not unlike an Oatmeal Stout without the hops, depending on recipe.

After the Black Death Wheat was grown less, Barley was more drought tolerant so it increased and production of Dredge was more for the workers but also saw reduction after the Plague. After the Black Death, later than 1350 Barley production is reduced by half. Wheat production is down to 1/3 and oat production is no longer used for beer but now as a foodstuff. It was less desireable and probably used as horse fodder. Prices for these grains are reduced and the amount of help available means that grain has to be harvested quickly or rot in the fields. Even after the harvest, the grains can rot in poorly built storage or perhaps last longer if properly built silos owned by the Church are able to store them.

A variety of malts were used by the Abbeys of England before 1350. Relatively minor brewing grains were: wheat, oats, and a wheat-winter oat mixture known as sprigetum. It’s estimated that only 4% of the wheat was being used for beer. 59% from barley and 5% from oats. Rye was used in less than 5% of the priories but was more popular in making beers outside of England in Scandanavia and German regions.

Malts purchased by lords of the Monastic estates received 5-18% of their grains from the market while 10% was obtained from tithing by farmers and the rest from their own estate lands. Relatively minor brewing grains were: wheat, oats, and a wheat-winter/oat mixture known as sprigetum.

Half of this grain was being malted onsite. Of this grain, 22% was Barley, 22% was a mix of 2 grains (maybe barley and oats) and the other 6% was a variety of grains (most likely grain from smaller estates grasping whatever grain they could get to make beer/ this could also be evidence of flavor profiles being developed).
Norwich Cathedral in the 1300s saw only barley based beer where Cantebury Cathedral enjoyed both barley and oat beers. While Glastonbury had 4 beers made from wheat, oats, dredge, and barley. Dunstable Priory in Bedfordshire brewed three kinds of ale: dominica cervisia, secunda cervisia, and tercia cervisia (third ale), otherwise known as cervisia servientium vel carettariorum (servants’ or carters’ ale). Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire, there were as many as four ranks of ale: bona/conventualis, mixta (a mixture of conventualis and secunda), secunda (known as “lag”) and tercia, (also known as “Wilkin le Naket,” most likely a Middle English form of “Naked William,” possibly the earliest recorded evidence of an ale/beer name in England.

Even up to the 14th century, these Religious Institutions were wary of purchasing grains from the market. At their height around 1400, only 20% of the grains came from local markets where inventory may not have met requirements in quantity, quality and obtainability. Small batches would cost more and the percentage of waste was almost non existent due to being able to produce their own wet product of beer. Some of the secular small brewers would set prices considered high or outlandish for the portion size allotted. In 1316, the Mayor and Aldermen of London declared:

Proclamation that no brewer nor brewster nor any one else sell a gallon of ale for more than 3 farthings and at a penny, and the best at three halfpence. Any one convicted of doing the contrary shall at first lose his brew, at the second offence abjure the trade, and at the third abjure the City for ever

At this same time, the occupation of making beer was changing from the Ale-wife or Brewster to the Male dominated Brewing houses which were in the occupation to make a profit. This gave rise to “Tipplers”, beer sellers who did not make their own beer, that started showing up in market areas. The pricings of grain drops dramatically because of an overage of supply but the brewers can still charge the same for beer as they did before the plague. Laws kept these Tipplers from hawking their wares before the Plague in Liber Albus 1419. These salesmen could move more product travelling around locally much like the milkman your parents had. This allowed the brewers to concentrate on brewing more beer. This in turn drew the house servants into working for the brewery and creating a larger business thus pushing the Alewives and Brewsters out of the business completely. They were still producing for themselves but no longer was there an additional income by selling excess beer from the families stores before it turned bad.

As the production grew, Alehouses sprang up in towns where the Tipplers would sell their product, insuring a steady supply of beer. One brewer, named John Kep, was producing 1500-2000 gallons a beer per week to keep up with the demand.

Alehouses, Taverns and Inns should not be confused. Taverns tended to be more related to the wine trade with some Taverns serving only wine. These establishments had better reputations than Inns or Alehouses as being more refined establishments. Inns had more space and were equal opportunity with beer and wine but also tended to serve food. Throw in the option for accomidations and they were more like a full service hotel. Alehouses were neither Inns nor Taverns. The Alehouses carried only beer and were polar opposite of Taverns with wine. If they did serve food it was more akin to todays pretzels and peanuts on the bar. A later offshoot (during the 1800s in New Orleans) were barrelhouses which had alcohol of a questionable nature served “in barrels” where the base alcohol might make you go blind and it was classified as wine (which might have been blended with fruit) Whiskey (cut with tar) and Brandy (mixed with Sulphuric Acid) where no conversation was allowed. You came in, drank your drink and got out.

Alehouses continued to gain the upper range of popularity until the 15th century. London’s city officials found a way to make their cut by both enforcing a curfew on how late these locations could be open and started taxing the alehouses based on their sales. They also went so far as to regulate pricing for a gallon of Ale and a series of fines for breaking these laws.

The use of hops which had been introduced back in the 9th century really didn’t start taking hold until the end of the 13th century. With more production, came more waste product. Brewers were using spent grains and spent hops to make weaker beers that even with the hop as preservative was less flavorful, more bitter and didn’t last as long. The only benefit was a lower price which really only benefitted the prorprietor of the business as extra income. These were sometimes referred to as “Small beers” which was a slippery term used for second sparge beers, flat beer, beers with no hops and beers with lower alcohol content (also referred sometimes referred to by Germans as churl/kindre beer). Regulations in London favored the Ale brewer who’s wares could be released in a matter of days vs Beer brewers who had to wait almost a month before their product was ready. It also required that the beer brewer have more equipment, storage and servants due to the longer time frame.

The beginning of the 14th century showed Barley being malted mostly in the Southern regions of England while in London a combination of oats, wheat and mixed grains. Again we see “Dredge” being created and used.

By the end of the 13th century, beginning of the 14th century, England’s countryside had embraced hopped beers while London tended to be stubborn about their “ale”. Hopped beers in London were only produced from foreign breweries (mostly Flemish) and suffered some threats so much that Henry VI took matters into his own hands by enacting laws to protect the foreign brewers. Along this same time Cider started to fall out of favor and because of England‟s siege of Rouen in 1418, the need for beer that could travel greater distances, punted the hopped beer into the forefront of the skirmish.

So maybe the Coronavirus won’t be such a bad thing? It can only improve the beer!

Image result for Death drinking a beer

Bibliography:

1) Ale Production and Consumption in Late Medieval England, c.1250–1530: Evidence from manorial estates by Philip Slavin / article from the Medieval Science, Technology, & Art AVISTA FORUM JOURNAL Vol 21.1/2 (2011)

2) THE BEGINNINGS OF BEER: LARGE SCALE BREWING IN THE EUROPEAN NEOLITHIC AND ITS IMPLICATIONS Anton Vershay, B.S.
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2017

3) THE CITIE CALLS FOR BEERE: THE INTRODUCTION OF HOPS AND THE FOUNDATION OF INDUSTRIAL BREWING IN LONDON
1200-1700 By KRISTEN D. BURTON

Off the Beaten Path

All roads lead to Rome,

………or so I’ve heard.  Even the tracks used for railroad trains here in the USA are based off a common standard road design set way back in Roman Empire .

So it should probably be no surprise that my Roman Wine transitioned into a temporary interest in other things Roman.  Case in Point:  Over the years I’ve been collecting a large pile of various tiles in my shed which were used as a spring time side project.   I’ve done a rather amateurish job of decorating the back  steps of my deck with a new picture every year:

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the design lasts most of the summer and fall, then winter destroys it and spring brings another design.  Up until last August it was a temporary amusement.  After my Roman Wine scored so well at Pennsic, I decided to take a short break from brewing and concentrate on some of my house issues.  Something was nagging at the back of my brain.  Ooooh! The Tile saw I got for Father’s Day was suddenly in need of attention.

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It started to become quite the obsession over the Fall and Winter.  Every day early in the morning and during lunch I’d run downstairs to slice the tiles into lengths and then used the nippers to chop them into the tiles (Tesserae)(1). The Romans would use whatever aggregate was available locally.  Most of the time this was granite but hardened clay, various other stones, glass and precious gems were used in creating the patterns and designs wanted by wealthy house owners for their lavish parties.

To shape these stones to the proper size, Mosaic Floor Masons would have slaves and apprentices shaping the stones using a special Mosaic Hammer with a Hardie (metal spike mounted in a block of wood)(2).

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The worker would break the materials down into small enough pieces using hammers and saws, then refine the shape and size using the hammer and hardie.  The trick was that the tesserae were created by cutting the flat surface in half and half again until the proper size was met.  These sizes varied depending on the complexity and the size of the mosaic design.  Tiles could be as big as 4×4 inches in elaborate designs weaving colors together,  or as small as a single dot (°) to get the kind of details which show depth and contour (3) on the characters.

Image result for mosaic border patternsA close up of the Profane Museum's "unswept room" mosaic in the Vatican.

As I was trying to do this on the cheap and these would be my first two pieces, I felt it was probably in my best interest to keep it fairly simple.  As such, I chose two designs that would be easier to create using the tiles from the shed:

First was a Mosaic with a Peacock and Flowers
3rd–4th century Roman or Byzantine made in North Africa (approximately).

No photo description available.

Many of the colors were already available to me except for the white background which I chose to replace with an electric blue color instead.  I felt the bird would stand out more and where my tiles would look newer, the design would not be considered a forgery.

The technique used for this would be the “Forward Facing” method where a surface was created like a subfloor of stone upon which a layer of mortar was laid and the tiles would be applied to the surface before the mortar set.  Any sections that weren’t complete would have to be scraped away due to the fact that the mason couldn’t guarantee the mortar mix would be the same.

The second piece I would do would be a much smaller piece and would be done using what is called “The Reverse” or “Blind” Method.

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The Burnt Church in Hippos depicts a small bird as part of the floor pattern.  “Reverse or Blind”  technique later used by the Romans in the Hellenistic Age (4).  This process was used to help make flat surfaces more even.  Mosaic patterns would be done upside down so the facing of the tile/tesserae would be flush with the surface, and the mortar/grout would fill in from the backside creating a surface that was even and could be leveled by the addition of more or less mortar between the mosaic plate and the sub-flooring.  This technique can be seen used in modern mosaic plating today.

The third method is the “Double Reverse/ Double Blind/ Ravenna Technique” (5) which we are not using here.

So back to our project.  Now that I’ve chosen my originals, it was time to start working with the tiles.  I wanted this to be transportable so it was quickly decided that using a piece of birch plywood would be the best option as a backer for the artwork.  Thin and strong enough to support the tiles and grout but still light enough to transport.

It was brought to my attention that a skim layer or “thin coat” of mortar on the board would better secure the tiles to the board.  So I did a little experiment.  I took a scrap piece of the plywood and then cleared a spot where I left one part without the thin coat and the other with a thin coat applied.  Then I adhered a tile to each spot with a bit of mortar and let it set overnight.

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As you can imagine, the tile without the thin-coat layer under it was torn off the plywood with very little effort.  The thin-coat layer mounted tile took a bit of effort to remove.  Unfortunately this experiment didn’t seem to kick in when i was working my first part of the project.

Tiles assembled, I started the design of the Peacock mostly by comparison of the original picture and counting the number of tiles used in each section of the bird until I got my final design:

 

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After the initial design was laid out, I went back through and tweaked the picture so that it would be a bit thinner.  For some reason my peacock looked more like a Thanksgiving Turkey, but removing a couple lines of tile thinned it right back out again and I went through and applied mortar to the back of each tile “buttering” the tiles, gluing it to the board (This is why the thin-coat option didn’t happen).  The design was completed and a layer of thin-coat was used to cover the rest of the board so the remaining blue tiles would have a better grip.  After the background tiles are adhered, the grout will be applied.

Another thing that has played a big part in this project is tesserae thickness.  When you see a display of mosaic floors they give you a scale of width and length but height of the tile is a huge part of the creation.  It’s especially noticeable when doing “Forward Facing” pieces.

As I mentioned before the Peacock was done doing the “Forward Facing” method.  Flat surfaces benefited more with the “Reverse” or “Blind” method but you can’t use that technique when you have curved surfaces such as this Baptismal Font

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Baptismal Font

These kinds of surfaces required a supply of loose tesserae of a variety of colors, lots of mortar and a great deal of patience for creating all the designs incorporated into the surface.  The Forward Method can work around angles and curves and several individuals would have been cutting tiles to fit the shapes around the edges.  Height or thickness of the tesserae make the surface uneven and harder to grout without lumps in the picture.

Due to the fact I was now at a stopping point before it’s showing at Birka, I decided for comparison I would do the smaller bird using the “Reverse” or “Blind” method.  It started off fairly easy.  I did the same thing with the tiles as I did for the peacock where I created the design by counting tiles by color and displaying the pattern forward so I could see all the pieces before they were reversed.20191120_0820267084944704962166016.jpg

Being a smaller pattern, I only needed about a third the tiles and after the designed was laidd out I was able to take some special glue mesh cloth that I had from a previous job and adhere the parts directly to the mesh.  In period they would have used cloth with bees wax to obtain the same results.  The tiles were adhered by pressing through the wax paper backing.  It was flipped over and I created a frame border so that the mortar could be applied over the tiles and let dry for 36 hrs.

Then Tragedy struck.  It appears the mortar, which I had left in the shed for over 2 years, did not retain it’s solidifying capability over that time.  I can only imagine that moisture and cold first solidified and then broke the mortar powder so it was virtually useless.  The mosaic was flipped, the glue mesh was removed and the parts began to crumble.  You couldn’t even grab a corner of the mosaic without it crumbling in your hands.

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Strangely enough Baroness Megan had posted a thought provoking article about knowing when to destroy your work and start over again.  Timing is Everything.   I took this as a guiding message and went back and separated all the tiles from the rotten cement, cleaning them and reassembling the entire picture row by row.  I think my form of “Reverse” method was probably more true this time because the process was far more time consuming.  The first attempt took only a couple days (about 4 hrs) up to the point where it was back on the glue mesh paper.  Second time was across 2 week (20 hrs) between examining the pattern, scraping the tile clean of old mortar, placing it in the new framework along with all the filler tiles.  Fresh mortar and 36 hrs later:

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The new mixture made a much stronger backing and it was fairly easy to flip, clean and then mount onto a smaller backing board to guarantee it wouldn’t break if too much pressure was put directly against the surface.

So now, when you run your hand across the mosaic, except for the edge, there’s a fairly level, even surface. This “Plate” would be put in place on the floor by backing it with a thick layer of mortar that gets squeezed out the edges and scraped away so it becomes a permanent part of the floor in one level surface.

 

Today is the Birka event here in the Barony of Stonemarche.  The “Reverse” method picture is displayed as an example of a newer technique while I work on placing the background onto the peacock picture.  I’ve got mostly the electric blue tesserae which I’m “buttering” (applying adhesive/mortar) to the backside of each tile and affixing them to the previously thin-coated surface.  I’m going to try and avoid the grid style I used on the “Reverse” method piece.  I want a more random direction similar to the original piece.

More details after the event will be added to this post.  Wish me luck.

 

 

Bibliography:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessera

(2) http://www.mosaics.wildgeckos.com/mosaic-masterclasses-at-kings-college-london-day-1/

(3) https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-in-profane-museum-vatican

(4) https://www.mused-mosaik.de/en/2014/05/09/teamwork-iii-hllenistic-mosaic-in-reverse-method/

(5) https://mosaicschool.com/art/double_reverse/

(6)

Ancient Drunkards

Greek merrymakers painted on a Boeotian black-figured kantharos, c. 575-550 BC, attributed to the Painter of Berlin. The kantharos shows one side with five nude komasts (drunken revelers) moving to the right, the first four dancing with one leg raised, the lead komast playing the aulos, a sixth komast to the left holding a kantharos in his right hand; the other side with six nude komasts moving to the right, four dancing with one raised leg, one holding the handle of a rounded-bottom jar, a kantharos on the ground before him, the second to last with his head turned back, details in added red, with rays on the foot.

No rest for the Brewer

You would think I’d get some time to be able to kick back and relax after obtaining the Master Brewer rank and then doing moderately well at Pennsic to boot.  But no.

As soon as the last of the Pennsic garb was washed and folded and all the camping equipment was put away, it was September and my Son had his Eagle Ceremony, then we went to Endewearde Hunt, then was the Barony of Stonemarche’s 30th or so Birthday.

This doesn’t sound so busy but in between all this stuff my job is getting busier because they’ve again decided to change the way we handle our work and my wife tells me we haven’t seen the inlaws in a while so we have to do that as well.

That last part actually has a lot of benefits.  My wife’s parents have a huge piece of property and with it come a lot of Elderberries and Apples.

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Yes it’s September ushering in Fall and fresh fruit is literally falling off the tree at me.  18lbs of Highbush Cranberries harvested by myself over an hour from a giant bush in my Mother-In-Law’s backyard.  Crab Apples and regular Apples growing from various trees all over the property and a few drops from the neighbor’s yard as well.  So we’ve got 2 Carboys full of Highbush Cranberry Wine and a Carboy with a mixed wild apple cider later to be sweetened with my signature Maple Syrup adjunct.

But wait there’s more!  The day in October I was going to work on brewing, my neighbor also offered me most of the peaches from his peach tree.  Apparently his wife is tired of peaches and wanted someone to come take away most of them.

Currently I have 1 carboy mostly full of English style peach juices slowly fermenting away and today at lunch I hand crushed the remaining peaches with my trusty brewing stick and added yeast in the hopes of creating a more full bodied peach wine.  These may end up getting blended if one is too weak and the other too thick.  Time will tell.

Alas, October brings brightly colored leaves and the smell of coffee filled with Pumpkin Spices; which means Stingy Jack (my Robust Pumpkin Porter) will rear his thick foamy head after the sacrifice of one Princess………Pumpkin.

Such a beautiful sight to see as it percolates in it’s fermenter.

With the frost soon coming, I felt it was probably prudent to harvest the last of the long suffering rhubarb and see if I can’t get a late season batch of Rhubarb wine going to guarantee that next years Great Northeastern War has enough beverage to get us through and maybe even Harper’s Retreat and next years Endewearde Hunt.

Last but by no means least, due to the success of my Roman Wine at Pennsic this year, I had to go back and get more grapes to start next years batch of Roman wine.  I am making three batches this time.  The first is a Shiraz Grape, the second is a combination of 3 different types of red grapes and the third is the remains of both grapes squeezed together for the secondary pressing I am referring to as Slave Wine

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At this point my kitchen now has about 8 containers happily bubbling along with 3 wine vats in the basement and 2 carboys clarifying in the backside of the basement.  This doesn’t include the 7 out of 8 kegs I currently have full of beverage ready for Birka 2020.

Yes, I’m maxed out and have no other containers available for brewing at this time.  People need to drink some of this stuff before I can think of making anything else.  If you aren’t already following the Inn of Bard’s Rest FB page, go here  to find out where the Bar will be at what event. We’d love for you to try some and tell us what you think.

Chesh!

Hops for 2019

Gardening is hard.  You see these pics of people’s gardens online and they are absolutely amazing.   They live in a temperate landscape and they are growing olive trees and pineapple and have fresh oranges for breakfast every day.   Then I look at my garden and wonder why the only thing I can grow is grass and goldenrod.  It’s a time thing, and even though I work from home, I have very little time.  My wife helps but between the two of us we’re lucky to be able to grow anything edible.   We introduced mints to our garden because they were low maintenance.  Not only did they flourish, they’ve gone to the other side and are now weed status.

My beloved hops given to me many years ago are the exception.  I have had them on the same spot of land for close to 15 years and it may be time to relocate or replant the hops.  This year ended up being a low maintenance year.  I watered them well, I encouraged them to grow up the strings but we started with very little sun, a lot of water and not much else.

The ground is probably at the end of it’s nutrient levels.  15 years will strip a lot of nitrogen and minerals along with whatever water is in the area.  The water will replenish but I’m thinking before it gets too much colder I should remove the root system of the hops, add a ton of fertilizer, rototill the heck out of it, and then bed it all down for the winter.

Hops2019

This years batch was barely a pound.  In years past we’ve seen a slow decline from 2 full 5 gallon buckets, down to this pot of hops which will be frozen and probably used in one batch of beer.

Fear not, this leads to more information about hops for next year.

 

Pennsic 48 brief recap

Pennsic is always a grand event for me.  It’s a chance to see the farthest flung regions of the SCA come together and compare notes of how research is being done on a wide variety of things.  It also gives me the opportunity to pit my product against brewers from not only the East Kingdom but many other Kingdoms as well.

This was the first year I didn’t have my arsenal of alcohol designated for various competitions, but still managed to bring a few bottles of Roman Wine, the last of the Frontenac Wine, Some Mojito Mead, highbush cranberry mead, a half case of Sour Cherry Beer for the King, a Keg of my students Boch Beer and a bit of rum for when I needed a change of pace.

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So yes, a pretty small batch.  probably enough to get me through the week.  The weather was fabulous.  First few days was pretty warm but we got a rainstorm half way through the week and that cooled things nicely by the time we were ready to go home.  But let’s not jump the gun.

The first major event was my friend  Elska Á Fjárfelli was at Pennsic.  She’s from Aethelmearc but she enjoys coming to play with us here in the East.  She was doing a “Proto-Beer” demo where she was making malt in an open barrel container using a similair “Hot Stone” process like I did back in winter.

It’s always great to see the similarities and differences on how folks do these projects based on their resources and beer manufacturing source information.  Now I want to buy a barrel and do this.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get a chance to do a Kuurna based beer.

Early in the week I dropped a bottle off for another Aethelmearc resident Master Daniel de Calvado who’s opinion I like appreciate on my beverages.  My theory is to learn from as many brewing Laurels as there are because it means that from the sum collection,  my brewing skills will improve greater.

I hadn’t really planned to, but ended up going to the Interkingdom Brewer’s Competition/Meet-n-Greet.  Several years before I had entered the competition with beverages that had scored high in the EK Brewer’s Guilde and I figured it would be alright.  Sadly, the criteria they had was nothing like our local Rubiric and both beverages were graded on a more modern BJCP kind of competition where clarity, bottle fill level, and other such nuances dragged points away from the beverage.  They had both scored as beginner/entry level and I did not know if the judges were having a bad day or what the problem was.  I had asked to see the guidelines concerning the container guidelines and how the fill level guidelines were applicable to the beverage.  They had given me a curt answer that they had no information concerning the judging format.

It had left a bad taste in my mouth, however, I felt it was worth giving it another chance.

I was early but managed to be met with a bunch of folks who were sitting in one tent while judging was in the adjacent tent.  My documentation was filled out and my beverage entered.  Now it was just a matter of sitting and waiting for my turn.  I was one of the first ones called.  We sat and they asked for any documentation so I whipped out my phone and showed them the entire documentation for the Roman/Georgian Wine Experiment.  Their eyes got bigger and bigger as I discussed it while flicking through pics of my process and discussing the results.  Whispers started happening between them and I sat back and waited.  They did bring up the fill level and the clarity of the beverage.  Thankfully both were up to par and they started tallying numbers.

Then they tasted it.  Apparently I made an impression because it scored 99 out of a possible 100.  I asked why it was 99 and they listed that the beverage was very high quality and ticked off the criterias that had been met.  It was scored down 1 point due to the fact that it was not cold enough.  They recommended an ice bucket for the wine next time.

On top of this, they confiscated the bottle.  One of the judges liked it so much that she wanted to serve it at the Midrealm Royal Dinner that night.  I went back to my tent and rushed back to exchange the partial bottle with a full one so that they could fully enjoy the beverage.  They can chill it as they see fit.  So all in all, a much improved score.  I believe that qualifies as a Master level Score in the Interkingdom Judging.  2 more scores like that and then I am qualified to judge the wines category.  Wines/Meads, Beer, and Cordials were the three categories I perceived being judged.  Each requires 3 high scores to be qualified as a judge for that subject.

So I was looking to get into the Bardicci party, both Loadey Toadey and Hoity Toity.  Managed to bribe myself in with a couple bottles of booze.  I was very disapointed in both the attendance and the alcohol choices.

One of my favorite things to do at Pennsic is to go to other people’s bars and I’d like to give a quick shout out to all those wonderful locations:  Horsepiss Tavern, 3 Swans, The Happy Norman, The Chalkman, The Octobar, Gabriel’s Landing, and the Drunken Duck.  Each has their own spin on a Tavern.  Some more period, some less so.  Unfortunately the only one I really didn’t get to was the Drunken Duck because every time I went there (1 time during the day, 2x during the evenings) they were closed.

The East Kindgom Brewer’s Guild also had a numerous amount of  panelings happen.  We broke them up between 2 weeks but we still did about 8 panels each week.  16 beverages got scored in total and several individuals were upped to higher ranks.

Later in the week I ran into Master Daniel again and he informed me that I had an appointment to go see a group of Roman Reenactors and talk with them.  I was surprised by this command appearance request but got a chance to go down to their encampment and talk a bit.  It appears that they were very enamoured with my wine.  I gave them another bottle and was told that their somnier was impressed and that they were doing a donation dinner of a Roman Feast for a charity.  They were intrigued by the process used to make the beverage and would I be interested in possibly trading or bartering for some of the Roman Wine.  Haven’t spoken to them since Pennsic but I’m sure a few bottles will be headed their way.

There was much fun had at Pennsic as always and it gives me new inspiration and hope for greater things to come.  I don’t know what’s next but I imagine it will be amazing.

Chesh!

 

 

 

 

Ok, I admit I’m not the most scheduled blogger

So I try to get stuff posted here before events happen and up until Panteria I was doing pretty well.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and now I find it’s the beginning of July and I still didn’t post anything about my Panteria experience.  Please forgive me.

So within the East Kingdom Brewer’s Guilde we have ranks: Member /Brewer /Journeyman / Craftsman /Master/ Grand Master.  After the East Kingdom Brewer’s Collegium  I was only 1 entry away from Master level when a couple of things happened.  At the EK Brewer’s Collegium, Magnus and I took some time to look at my scores and came to the conclusion I only needed one more beer recipe to qualify for Master Level.

Shoot forward about 2 weeks and I am having a terrible time trying to find a new beer recipe because all my leads end up getting dead ended or turn into an out of period source.  Suddenly, I get an email from Magnus stating that the format has changed.  The skinny of it is that for those individuals who are constantly doing “Master” level scoring, the points will now count towards levels.  Also, instead of a 70 for Master level, you now need a minimum of 75.    In example: Bob the Brewer is currently Member level (meaning he showed up to a meeting, bang, member).  He starts brewing and he may work himself up to Brewer normally because he only is required to create a couple of beverages with a 50 or better.  However, his beverages are outstanding and he manages to get himself a 75 and a 77.  If he continues to brew and manages to create beverages with Master level scores (more than 75) he could essentially pop over Journeyman and get himself into Craftsman or possibly even Master automatically.

Being that I was on the cusp; one of my beverages scored a 74 at EKBC and I was concerned that would count against me, now needing 2 beverages instead of 1 to move up a level.  I was assured this would not be the case since the change came after EKBC and all previous scores would hold.  It actually ended up benefiting me because of previous beverages now were counted toward my level.  Congradulations! without lifting a finger I was now “Master Brewer”.

I was concerned because I didn’t want a technicality to be the fulcrum point on my achieving Master.  Plus, my Laurel had some concerns about my presentations.  In one case I had done my research from a procedure standpoint, on another I had done my research doing individual researches of each phase and coming to the final product conclusion.  In the last I had done straight research of finding a period beverage, producing it and presenting it for paneling.  She felt I was a little too scattered in the way I was approaching my research.  I explained I felt it showed I had an understanding of not just copy/paste you sometimes see with straight research, but using the same techniques and patterns of how the beverage would be created in period.  My Laurel felt I needed a good solid piece of work to show that I had the ability and knowledge to document a recipe fully so there was little wiggle room for research argument.  Granted there are always questions but the multiple resources would help quell any questions of technique or research tactics.  So with that I found a recipe:

 

Dr Stephens Water

by Kryslaw “Kythe” Szubielka

Original Recipes

TAke a galon of good Gascoyne wine, then take Ginger, Galingale, Canel, Cinamom, Nutmegs, greyns, cloves, mace, annis seeds, fenel seeds, caraway-seeds, of every of them a dram. Then take Sage, Mint, red Roses, Time, Pellitory of the wall, wilde Maierom, Rosemary, wild Time, Camamel, Lavander, Avens, of every of them one handfull, beat the spices small, and bruse the herbs, and put all into the wine, and let it stand 12. houres, stirring it divers times, then still it in a Limbecke, and keepe the first pinte of the water, for it is the best: then will come a second water, which is not so good as the first.

The sundry vertues and operations of the same many times proved.

THe vertues of this water be these. It comforteth the spirits, and preserveth greatly the youth of man, & helpeth inward diseases comming of cold against sha∣king of the palsey, it cureth the contraction of sinewes and helpeth the conception of women that be barren, it killeth wormes in the belly, it helpeth the cold gout, it helpeth the tooth ach, it comforteth the stomacke very much, it cureth the cold dropsie, it helpeth the stone in the bladder and reynes of the backe, it cureth the canker, it helpeth shortly a stinking breath, and who so useth this water now & then, but not too of∣ten, it preserveth him in good liking, & shal make one seeme young very long. You must take but one spoon∣full of this water fasting but once in seven dayes, for it is very hot in operation. It preserved Doctor Stevens that he lived 98 yeare, whereof twenty he lived bed∣ridde.

Redaction

Take a gallon (1) of good Gascony(2) Wine. Add Ginger, Galingale, Canel, Cinnamon, Nutmegs, Greyns, cloves, mace, annise seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds about a dram(3) each. Then take sage, mint, red roses, thyme, Pellitory of the wall (4), rosemary, wild thyme, chamomile, lavender, avens (5) and of each of them about one handful. Beat the spices small and bruse the herbs and put all into the wine and let stand 12 hrs, while stiring it divers times(6), then still it in a Limbecke/Alembic (7), and keep the first pint of the water, for it is the best. Then will come the second water, whis is not so good as the first.

The virtues of the beverage are many times proved. The virtues being it comforts the spirit, it preserves youth of man and helps inward diseases coming of cold against the shaking of the palsey. It ccures the contraction of sinew and helps the conception of women that be barren. It kills worms in the bell and it helps the cold gout. It helps the tooth ach it comforts the stomach very much and it cures the cold dropsie. It helps the stone of the bladder and it cures the canker , it helps shortly of stinking breath and who uses this water now and then but not too often it preserves him in good liking making one seem young very long. You must take but one spoonful of this water fasting but once in seven days for it very hot in operation (flavor). It preserved Doctor Stevens that he lived 98 years where the last twenty he lived bed ridden.

Tools

Mortar and Pestle Glass Jar

Wooden Spoon.

Process

I felt that although Gascony wine was readily available, this would end up being seen as a Cordial category item so I instead used the Roman wine I had created for my previous paneling as the base for this beverage. It qualified as a rose wine and would easily substitute for a Gascony Rose’ or red table wine.

The following spices were obtained from my own garden with help from a fellow scadians:

  • Mint Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lavender

The following could not be obtained for this recipe

Pellitory of the Wall used hops instead as they are part of the same family (4)

Avens- flavor similair to cloves which was already an ingredient(5)

Greyns- no clear definition could be found so I guessed they mean “Grains” so a dram barley grains were ground up and used in place.  (** I later found out they were referring directly to “Grains of Paradise”)

The beverage was put into a glass container and then stirred together at various times according to the original recipe. As we were not able to use the Alembic aspect to distill, it was felt that running the mixture through a cloth to clarify it and then adding roughly 4 oz of vodka to emulate the effects of distillation would be a legally prescribed alternative. 

Bibliography

(1) Definition of a Gallon by medieval standards was 156.4 oz English system gallons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallon#English_system_gallons )

There were more than a few systems of liquid measurements in the pre-1884 United Kingdom.[2]

(2) Gascony is a region of Southwest France which was part of Aquetaine during the middle ages (13th century) ruled by the English for about 300 years. https://winefolly.com/review/wines-of-southwest-france/

  1. Dram- the word dram itself. It is derived from the Greek drachm, an ancient weight of ca. 4.37 grams https://www.dramming.com and http://home.clara.net/brianp/weights.html

  2. Pellitory of the Wall – https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/pelwal22.html

  3. Avens- Tastes like cloves so I used extra cloves https://en.heilkraeuter.net/herbs/avens.htm

  4. Divers times- divers times or in various ways; — used to qualify nouns in the singular number.

  5. Limbecke or Alembic is the pot still version of distillation https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/alembic

  6. Original recipe found in The Haven of Health 1594 by Thomas Cogan. Later Hugh Platt plagerized the recipe in his 16th century book Delights for Lady’s

**This beverage shows concepts the same as either a Maywine, Claree or Hypocras where in most cases a low grade wine is spiced with intent to improve the flavor. The biggest difference is that it specifically calls for a better grade of wine specifically of Gascony. This may be because the English had control of this region up until the 16th century and considered it better than French region wine.

Presented in a glass bottle:

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This picture featured is not the concoction I made.  Strangely enough, I was so busy I didn’t even think to take pictures of the process I followed as I normally do.  I apologize for the lack of pics.  The beverage was submitted at Panteria to my panel of judges and ended up with a 77 score (Master level/ even by the new rules).   Along with myself, we also saw Brother Robert aka Baron William Graham achieve Master level.  Here’s a picture of both of us and our judges:

William_N_Kythe

(Left to right) Me, Master Otto, Baron William, Marieka and Cenwulf pointing to the Master level scores.  Picture by Duchess Marieka

We were both very proud of our accomplishments and figured that was the end but we were both told to be in court that evening.  So I and William both ended up in court where Mistress Marieka presented us formally to the populace as Master Brewers.  Here is the link provided with thanks to Yona Carmichael:

There was a little SNAFU with having enough Medallions but it was all in good fun that we made a little schtick about it.  So now I’m a Master Brewer.  It’s humbling because I know enough to know I don’t know a damn thing about brewing.  Or maybe it’s better to say the more I learn, the more I realize how much more about brewing there is out there.

So Grand Master is the next step.  It’s a whole different set of rules for that one so this may take some time.  The question I’m left with:  What do I brew next? How do I top what I’ve done already?

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Somehow.