From: "Chuck Graves" <email@example.com>
Spring Session, A.S. XXXLord Tadhg macAedain uiChonchobhair
IntroductionThis course is intended to give interested parties an introduction to the various types of period potables. It is my hope that everyone who takes part in this endeavor will leave with the following considerations, which I share with many of my brethren:
- Brewing is Simple!
- Brewing is Educational!
- Brewing is Rewarding!
- Brewing is Fun!
- Keep everything as clean as possible.
- When you sanitize glassware, nothing beats bleaching and boiling.
- Learn a little patience -- brewing is not fast but well worth any wait.
- Don't brew or bottle when you're ill -- it will come back to haunt you.
- Take good notes.
- Large cooking pot (3 to 6 gallons);
- Large glass or food-grade plastic jug, which can be made airtight (a 5 to 6 gallon jug can be had for $10 to $20);
- 6 feet of siphon tube;
- rubber stopper with hole;
- some household strainers;
- suitable space for the fermenter to sit undisturbed for the duration of the brewing process.
- One-gallon glass jug, which can be made airtight (such as a cider or juice jar);
- large funnel;
- sturdy muslin sack for straining;
- suitable space for the cordial to sit undisturbed for the duration of the process.
- Boil honey (or malt) and water;
- Skim dross (for honey);
- Add flavoring elements (hops, herbs, spices, juices, peels, etc.);
- Continue cooking for appropriate amount of time;
- Strain into fermenter and allow to cool;
- Pitch yeast;
- Allow to ferment for a while (normally until fermentation ceases);
- Add priming sugars (use malt, corn sugar, honey, corn syrup, etc.)
- Produce juice (usually by squeezing);
- Strain into fermenter;
- Pitch yeast;
- Add flavoring elements (herbs, spices, etc.) in muslin bag;
- Allow to ferment for a while (normally until fermentation ceases);
- Place fruit and flavoring elements (herbs, spices, juices, peels, etc.) in jar;
- Cover with vodka (normally, vodka or grain alcohol);
- Allow to steep;
- Strain into bottle;
Background -- MeadsSeveral different names are used for meads and their cousins. In many cases, we have developed a set of definitions, which we tend to follow more rigorously than in period. Currently, some of the following terms are commonly used:
- mead -- honey and water with a minimum of herbs, spices, etc.;
- metheglin -- honey, water, herbs, and/or spices;
- melomel -- honey, water, and fruits or juices;
- pymeth -- honey, water, and grapes (like a cross between mead and wine);
- braggot -- honey, water, ale, and spices (traditional Welsh drink).
Background -- WinesLike meads, wines have a vast variety associated with them. Unlike meads, however, their variety is drawn from the vast variety of grapes. The cultivation of which is an art unto itself. Wines tend to be classified by the variety or varieties used and its overall performance.Wines share a further similarity to mead -- they also fell into two categories: short and long. Short wines, as the name implies, took a much shorter brewing time -- typically, less than a week before bottling. These drinks were low in alcohol and were drunk on a daily basis. These types of wines have been making come back modernly. In period, they were produced on a much quicker schedule than we see today, but their return is marked by what is referred to as `nouveau wines'. More traditional wines took somewhat longer to brew -- typically, several months. In addition, they tended to be aged for a good deal longer. The alcoholic content of these wines tends to be in the 7% to 15% range.
Background -- BeersHistorically, we find only two names for malted barley beverages -- beer and ale. (Aside from Welsh braggot, which is a heavily spiced cross between ale and mead.) Initially, these were two separate entities whose distinction has been lost over time. In early England, ale referred to a beverage drunk as soon as fermentation ceased; beer referred to an aged drink.Preservatives were needed to prevent aged beer from going bad. The types of herbs used in this process varied from country to country, and included juniper, coriander, rosemary, and other aromatic herbs. Eventually, a mixture called gruit found widespread use in England. Gruit included sweet gale, sage, common yarrow, bay, and pine resin. (Gruitbeer also included wheat and oats in addition to the barley.)
As you may have noticed, I did not mention the most common preservative in modern beer -- hops. Hops were a German introduction to the brewing process. In fact, the battles fought between the gruit producers and hops farmers -- and the supporting brewers, reflects the most colorful segment of brewing history. Hops were initially introduced to England by Benedictine monks in the 11th century. But the true battles over their use, did not occur until the 15th century with substantial intercession from the English crown. In the end, hopped beer won its place and is the only remaining commercial form -- to the best of my knowledge. (A review of period sources indicates that beer and ale were often used interchangeably.)
As was the case for meads, beers and ales fell into two categories: short and long. Short ales, as the name implies, took a much shorter brewing time -- typically, less than a week before bottling. These drinks were low in alcohol -- also referred to as small ales -- and were drunk on a daily basis. They were the period equivalent of a soft drink. Long ales took somewhat longer to brew -- though, rarely more than a month. The alcoholic content of these ales tends to be in the 7% to 15% ranges. Today, a person would be hard-pressed to find a producer of small ales!
Background -- CordialsCordials and liqueurs were made in one of the three following ways: (1) distillation of a brewed product; (2) infusion in a wine or mead, and distillation of the resulting product; and, (3) infusion in a distilled spirit. The first seems to have been used when the desired flavor was honey or fruit; the last was preferred when the desired flavor was herb or spice. While these processes ultimately involved distillation, a fruit cordial was obtained by producing a wine and then distilling it to a brandy, which might then be sweetened or spiced lightly. In contrast, a spice cordial, such as one of cloves, was obtained by distilling a dry wine, such as sack, and infusing the spice in the resulting spirit. As a result of modern statutes, the latter infusion process tends to be preferred today for almost all types of cordial.
Background -- ExoticsThe class referred to as `exotics' is more of a catch-all class for brewers in the SCA. It includes all those beverages which do not easily fit within the previous descriptions -- meads, wines, beers, cordials. Exotics include such things as kumiss and kefir (produced from fermented milks), brandies, and whiskeys.A recipe for Irish whiskey, Usquebath (pronounced Oos�ke�bah), has been included. Of course, the distillation of whiskey is forbidden by law -- however,a recipe is available from The Queens Closet Opened by W. M., which uses an infusion technique -- in effect, a very unusual herbal cordial.
Period SourcesFour fine late-period sources for brewing and distillation are The Jewell House of Art and Nature by Sir Hugh Platt (1594), Delights for Ladies by Sir Hugh Platt (1609), The Queens Closet Opened by W. M. (1655) and The Closet Of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened: Whereby is Discovered Several Ways for Making of Metheglin, Sider, Cherry-Wine, etc. (1669). Each of these works has various discussions of beers and ales. Certainly, the work of Sir Kenelme Digbie is unequalled with its vast array of recipes for mead, metheglin, wine, and ale -- over 140 recipes in all! The mead recipes below draw heavily from his work -- commonly referred to as The Closet Opened.In addition, the works of Sir Hugh Platt and W. M.(taken from the Receipt Books of Queen Henrietta Marie, wife of Charles I) are especially instructive on the arts of distillation and the making of "the extractions of all hearbs". In addition, Sir Kenelme Digbie discusses how to make cordials (although he is better known for his vast array of recipes for mead, metheglin, and ale.) These works serve as the principal historical basis for the author's entries in the category of cordials. The author has included, as an attachment to the article, specific passages considered most illuminating to this area of inquiry.
AcknowledgementsI would like to thank Their Graces, Duke Gyrth and Duchess Melisande, for access to their library, herb garden, and copious experience. I am most thankful for all their help.
Sir William Paston's MeadRecipe:
7 1/2 lbs honey (about 5 pt.) 2 1/2 Tbsp rosemary 2 1/2 Tbsp bay leaves (about 40-45 leaves) 2 lemons ale yeastProcess:Scrape lemons with serated knife to remove peel -- no pith (white part) as it will give the mead a bitter taste. Place 2 gallons of water in pot. Bring to a boil. Add honey and skim dross. Add rosemary, bay, and lemon peel. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour 3 gallons of cold water into fermenter. Strain wort into fermenter. Top off with remaining water to 5 gallons. Allow to cool. During cooling, close container or cover mouth with a bleach-soaked rag. Pitch yeast and shake well. Let work for 3 to 5 days, and bottle or keg. Ready to serve in about 10 days. Alcohol content is approximately 2%.
SIR WILLIAM PASTON'S MEATHE, The Closet Opened, pg. 41-42.
Take ten Gallons of Spring-water, and put therein ten Pints of the best honey. Let this boil half an hour, and scum it very well; then put in one handful of Rosemary, and as much of Bayleaves; with a little Limon-peel. Boil this half an hour longer, then take it off the fire, and put it into a clean Tub; and when it is cool, work it up with yest, as you do Beer. When it is wrought, put it into your vessel, and stop it very close. Within three days you may Bottle it, and in ten days after it will be fit to drink.
Angel's Short MeadRecipe:
5 gal water 7 1/2 lbs honey (about 5 pt.) 1/2 hand ginger, sliced 1 Tbsp balm (lemon balm or balm mint) 2 Tbsp spearmint 2 Tbsp elderflowers 4 cloves 2 lemons ale yeast (Edme)Process:Scrape lemons with serated knife to remove peel -- no pith (white part) as it will give the mead a bitter taste. Place 2 gallons of hot water in pot. Bring to a boil. Add honey and skim dross. Add ginger, balm, spearmint, elderflowers, and lemon peel. Cook until ginger is limp and various flavors are evident (usually 30-35 minutes to bring out elderflowers in color and bouquet). Add cloves. Cook until cloves appear in bouquet -- about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour 3 gallons of cold water into fermenter. Strain wort into fermenter. Top off to 5 gallons. Allow to cool to about 100�F. During cooling, close container or cover mouth with a bleach-soaked rag. Pitch yeast and shake well. Let work for 3 to 5 days, and bottle or keg. Ready to serve in about 10 days. Alcohol content is approximately 2%.
If any remains after 3 weeks, refrigerate!
SEVERAL SORTS OF MEATH, SMALL & STRONG, 2. Small, The Closet Of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, pg. 56.
Take ten quarts of water, and and one of honey, Balm a little; Minth, Cloves, Limon-peel, Elder-flowers, a little Ginger; wrought with a little yest, bottle it after a night working.
3 gal water 3 cp sugar 3 cp brown sugar 2/3 cp raisins 6 lemons ale yeast (Edme)Process:Scrape lemons with serated knife to remove peel -- no pith (white part) as it will give the mead a bitter taste. Squeeze lemons. Set juice and peel aside. Place 1 gallon of hot water in pot. Bring to a boil. Add sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 gallons of cold water. Strain wort into fermenter. Allow to cool to about 100�F (with these proportions, there is usually no waiting period.) Pitch yeast and shake well. Let work overnight -- or at least 8-10 hours -- in a warm place under a bubble. Add raisins and bottle. Let stand until raisins float. Chill and store in a cool place until ready to serve. Self-conditioning. Alcohol content is approximately 2%.
This recipe was translated for me by a dear friend in An Tir. The recipe was from his grandmother's cookbook, Finnish Holiday Cookbook, 1924. Not exactly period, I confess, but quite traditional. I am still looking for a period citation.
1 gal water 1 lb raisins 1/2 lb sugar 2 lemonsProcess:Boil water. Place raisins and sugar in an earthen pot. Squeeze lemons over raisins and sugar. Slice rinds and throw into pot. Pour boiling water over mixture. Let stand for 24 hours. Filter into bottles and chill.
TO MAKE STEPPONI, The Closet Of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened, pg. 106.
Take a Gallon of Conduit-water, one pound of blew Raisins of the Sun stoned, and half a pound of Sugar. Squeese the juyce of two Limons upon the Raisins and Sugar, and slice the rindes upon them. Boil the water, and pour it so hot upon the ingredients in an earthen pot, and stir them well together. So let it stand twenty four hours. Then put it into bottles (having first let it run through a strainer) and set them in a Cellar or other cool place.
Eorann's Cool MeadRecipe:
15 lb clover honey (for five gallons) 1/2 hand ginger 3 limes (see note 1) 1 mint tea bag (see note 2) 2 tbsp spearmint 1 tbsp peppermint 12 juniper berries 1 vanilla bean (see note 3) yeast starter (see note 4)Process:Scrape the limes with a serated knife to get lime peel. Be careful to leave the pith! Half the limes and squeeze thoroughly. Set aside peel and juice.
Using a five-gallon (or greater) stainless steel or ceramic-lined pot, put in 1/2 gal of hot tap water. Empty bottle of honey into pot and rinse out the container 1 1/2 times with hot tap water. Bring solution to a boil and skim the dross. Continue until dross no longer forms quickly (45 minutes to 1 hour). Put in ginger, tea, and mint (use a tea ball for mint and tea, if available). Cook for 15-20 minutes -- until ginger is limp and mint is noticeable in taste. Add lime juice, lime peel, and juniper berries. Cook 5 to 10 minutes -- until the juniper berries are noticeable in smell.
Remove from heat. Remove tea ball. Pack off with ice and cold water to five gallons. Strain into fermenter. Add vanilla bean. Allow to cool overnight. Make sure mouth of fermenter is covered at least with a damp rag -- preferably bleach-soaked. Pitch yeast in morning. Rack off once a month until the mead has completely cleared -- "until you can read newsprint through the carboy" -- and fermentation has all but stopped (usually 6 to 8 weeks).
1) While limes were available in period, and their use can be documented for cooking, my sources for brewing do not indicate that they were used in this manner. Instead, their kin -- lemons and oranges -- were used. In period, citrus was used for taste and the concept of pH control was not understood.