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.

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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:

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(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.