Brewing Glossary

I had put together this hand-out for brewing classes I teach in the SCA.  I put it here now for your amusement.

Brewing Glossary

Lord Donndubán Ó Domhnaill (Donovan O’Donnell)

Ale is a beer that uses a type of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or “top-fermenting” yeast as opposed to a Lager (Saccharomyces uvarum) or “bottom-fermenting.”  During the late middle ages, the term was used to describe a malt beverage that was flavored with herbs other than hops.  It would otherwise be known as beer.  Beer is used to describe all malt beverages today.

Atenveldt Brewers Guild is the guild in the Kingdom of Atenveldt whose membership organizes brewing competitions and other events.   Gain rank by demonstrating your knowledge of the brewing arts.

Beer is the fermented product of grains such as barley and wheat.  Today the term is used to refer to any ale or lager.  During the late middle ages, the term was used to refer to a malt beverage that was flavored with hops instead of with other herbs.

Cyser is mead made with apples or apple juice.

Cool is a term that is used to describe anyone that remembers to enter brewing into kingdom or baronial arts and sciences competitions.

Distillation is the harvesting and concentration of alcohol from another source.  This is still illegal to do without licensing in the United States. is a place you can go to get step-by-step instructions on brewing your first beer or mead.

Fermentation is a metabolic process converting sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol by yeast or bacteria.  In our case, it is the conversion of sugar by yeast into alcohol.

Gruit is an herbal mixture that was used before hops became popular.  Some herbs used included ground ivy, bog myrtle, carline thistle, yarrow, wild rosemary, heather, wormwood, sycamore sap, spruce, ginger, anise, cumin, laurel, marjoram, mint, sage, and acorns.

Hops is an herb used to help in the preservation and flavoring of beer.  The first recorded cultivation of hops was in a monastery in Bavaria 736 AD. The first documentation association of hops used in brewing is in 822 AD by Abbot Adalhard of a Benedictine monastery in Northern France.

Lager is a beer that uses a type of yeast called Saccharomyces uvarum, or “bottom-fermenting” yeast as opposed to a Ale (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) or “toop-fermenting.”  Lager brewing existed in Bavaria from the 1400s.

Malt is grain that has been allowed to germinate for a couple of days, thus releasing important proteins and sugars that are used to make beer.

Mead is a fermented product of honey and water.

Melomel is mead with added fruit.

Methoglyn is mead with added herbs.

Reinheitsgebot is the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 which stated that beer could only be made from barley, hops, and water.

Yeast are fungal organisms that consume sugar and release the bi-products of alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Different strains of yeast impart different flavors and contribute a lot to the differentiation of the styles of beer or wine being made.

Zymology is the study of zymurgy, the area of applied science related to fermentation.

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Posted by on November 14, 2013 in About Beer



There are a number of ways in which you may have reached this article, but it is likely you came first upon my articles on mead making first. There, I advised buying a gallon of apple cider and inheriting with it a free 1-gallon glass vessel for your mead making adventures. This is a good way to go. Find yourself some cider. Get 100% real apple cider, and go organic. Anytime you are making a fermented beverage, organic is best. I am not opposed to agricultural fungicides at all, but the yeast that is going to be working my mead for me might have a problem with it.

Cyser is simple a mead made with apple. A mead with any added fruit is called a melomel. Some popular concoctions such as this one has a special name. This one is a cyser.

If you have stumbled onto this article and haven’t yet made mead or any other alcoholic beverage you should first read Your First Mead, and probably Your Second Mead. The process is the same, only we are going to reduce the honey from 3 lbs. to 2 lbs., replace the water with cider, and loose the acid blend. Other than that, the process is the same. You may want to experiment however with a little bit of cinnamon.

  • 2 lbs honey
  • 3.5 quarts real, organic apple cider
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Yeast – of the many yeast available, there are cider yeasts, wine yeasts, and ale yeasts that will do nicely. Pick your favorite.

Mix and heat to pasteurize. Cool. Add Yeast. Wait several weeks. Drink. You may also wish to carbonate. If you are familiar with the brewing of beer, the bottling process will be the same.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Recipes


Your Second Mead

Your second mead is same as the first, except I am going to expand your shopping list a little bit and give you a few more options that we didn’t cover the first time around. There are a lot of things going on. If you haven’t yet started down the mead-making road, you should read that article first. If you have a handle on it, we can tackle a little bit more.

Shopping List

  • Hydrometer – This is a device that will help you measure the specific gravity of your must, thus allowing us to get an idea of how much sugar we are working with and ultimately, how much alcohol you have produced. Get this from your homebrew store.
  • Graduated Cylinder – Buy this from your homebrew store at the same time you get your hydrometer. It will hold the fluid you will be testing it with.
  • Yeast – Any yeast will do, but this time around, take a look at some of the dry yeasts as options. Champagne yeast will give you a dry, high alcohol content. Medium white wine yeasts will fall somewhere between the Champagne yeast and the sweet mead yeast we used on the first batch.
  • Bottles – Grab a case of those self-sealing bottles and replacement rubber stoppers from the homebrew store.
  • Bottling Bucket – This is a bucket with a hole at the bottom and a spigot.
  • Bottling Valve – Buy this from your homebrew store. Cut a couple of inches from your racking tube to attach this to the spigot of your bottling bucket. When you insert this valve into your bottle and it reaches the bottom, it will trigger and allow the mead to flow smoothly in to fill the bottle.

The instructions will be the same as the first mead except for a few additional steps.

  1. Take copious notes. Write everything down. Don’t just record the ingredients. Record temperatures, measurements, and your thoughts as you tasted the samples. The more you write down, the more you will be able to learn from your mistakes and reproduce your successes.
  2. Instead of bringing your mead to a full boil, you may want to hold it at 165 degrees F for about five minutes and cool it back down from there.   Our purpose is to pasteurize the must to keep contaminants at bay.  We do not have to bring it to a full boil to do this.  In fact, not bringing it to a full boil will better preserve some of the volatile aromatics of the honey.
  3. If you have chosen to use a dry yeast, you will want to hydrate it. Add the dry yeast to half a cup of water and allow it to sit for a half an hour before adding it to your must. Again, make sure everything is sanitized and clean. You can also add a small amount of sugar (1 teaspoon) to ‘proof’ your yeast. If the yeast is alive and well, the yeast will foam. If it does nothing, it is dead and will not work for you as you had hoped. Go buy another yeast packet.
  4. Once you have cooled your must the first time, insert a sanitized measuring cup into your must to grab about a half a cup to fill up the graduated cylinder. Use the hydrometer to get a reading. It will probably look something like 1.100. This is called your Starting Gravity (SG). Write it down. It will also have a corresponding potential alcohol reading. For a specific gravity of 1.1, this will be about 13.4%. Be sure also to check the temperature and adjust accordingly. Your hydrometer is adjusted for 60 degrees, so if you are taking a reading at 70 degrees, you will need to add something like .001.
  5. After your first fermentation of a few weeks and the bubbling activity has reached a still point, you will rack your must. As you do this, capture another sample to take another reading. Depending on the yeast you use, it could range anywhere from 0.980 to 1.200. This is called your Finishing Gravity (FG). For medium wine yeast, expect it to be something like 1.012. Write that down, as well as the corresponding alcohol by volume (ABV). Let’s say it is 1.4%. By subtracting this from your first reading, you will get your final ABV. In this example it would be 12%. Whew. That is some potent stuff. Drink responsibly.
  6. In your first mead, I glossed over racking and bottling but there is something here you need to also be aware of. Once there is alcohol, oxygen will no longer be your friend. The alcohol will oxidize and taste very bad. To minimize the risk of this, we avoid as much splashing as we can. This is why we use the racking tube and the bottling bucket instead of the funnel for these stages of the process.

Hopefully this gives you a more rounded understanding of mead making. From here, you are likely to want to experiment with different varietal honeys, different strains of yeast, and a variety of herbs, species, and fruits. There is much to explore and many years of fun ahead of you. Enjoy the journey. I hope to taste your wares one day.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in How-To Brew


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Your First Mead

A gallon of wineMaking mead is fun, rewarding, and down-right delicious. The Mesopotamians loved it, the Vikings loved it, and we love it today. It isn’t that difficult, either. I made these instructions below as simple as I can for you to make your very first mead, but you will also need to review the basics of sanitation before you begin. After making your first mead, you can explore options to improve the process. Have fun and let me know how it turns out!

Shopping List

  • 2 one-gallon glass jugs – Buy a couple of gallons of real apple cider and get a free jug to ferment your beverage in. If you need something to do with the apple juice, try making a cyser.
  • 1 bung & fermentation lock – If you can, take that jug into the brewing store and ask them to help you put a stopper in it. Tell them you are going to make some mead and you need that stopper and a fermentation lock.
  • 3 lbs. honey – Buy this from your local brewing store or a bee keeper. Buy in bulk. You do not want to pay the full retail prices that you would have to pay in a grocery store. You also want to be wary of cheap honey at your bulk grocery warehouses. Get the best ingredients you can. If you are going to spend the time, make it the best it can be. You may also have to purchase a bucket to put it in that you can use again for your next trip to the store.
  • 3 quarts of water – I like to buy filtered water. You may get by with using tap water, but filtered water is not that expensive and will help ensure quality.
  • 1 Funnel – This can easily be found at the brewing store or anywhere you can get basic cooking utensils.
  • Two-gallon pot – You may already have this.
  • Yeast Nutrient – You can pick this up from your brewing supply shop. For this recipe, you will need only 1 teaspoon.
  • Acid Blend – Pick this up at the brewing store. You will want to add 1 teaspoon to this recipe.
  • Sanitizer – There are a variety of sanitizers you can get from your homebrewing store.
  • Thermometer – You will also find this at the homebrewing store.
  • Sweet Mead Yeast – Ask for it at the local brewing store. There are a variety of other liquid wine yeasts you could use. Any one of them would probably make good mead. If you are insistent upon using a dry yeast, then read ahead to making your second mead.
  • Small Racking Tube and hose – This will be used to siphon mead from one container to another – a process we call racking. Be sure to tell the person at the homebrew store that you will be making only one gallon at a time and that you only need a small one of these.

Now that you have all of your equipment and ingredients laid out before you, turn on the burner, warm your water and dissolve the honey into it. Stir it in with the yeast nutrient and the acid blend and bring it to a boil. The mixture you are creating now is called must. It is just what we call wine before it becomes wine. The next step will be to cool it down to room temperature.

Fill your sink with ice water and set the pot you have been using into it. This will cool the must rapidly. The sooner we reach our desired temperature and add the yeast, the better. It is important, however, that we do not add the yeast until it is at least below 80 degrees F. Anything higher will start to kill the yeast, and that won’t do us any good. It is also important to note that anything that touches the yeast must first be sanitized. Be careful with wet hands not to drip into your pot and also keep everything away that could contaminate your otherwise perfect concoction.

Once your must has come down to at least 80 degrees F, transfer it to your sanitized glass jug. Plug it as best you can and shake it well. For this part of the process, you want oxygen in the must. It will allow those little yeasties to reproduce and create a happy healthy colony in your mead to be. Add your yeast. Fill your fermentation sanitized lock with sanitation fluid or vodka and set it in a cool dark place.

After about 24 hours, you should see the bubbles come up frequently as the yeast releases carbon dioxide. This is just a part of the process of creating alcohol. Let it sit until the bubbling stops. This may take a couple of months, so be patient. Once it reaches a stand-still, sanitize the second glass jug and the racking tube, and move the mead from one vessel to the other. There will be some sediment on the bottom of the first jug. This is the spent yeast. Do your best to leave it in the first vessel and discard it. Let the mead sit in that second vessel until you just can’t stand it anymore. It will be at its best after it has aged for 1-2 years, but I will applaud you if you can wait that long. Then, bottle or share with your friends.

I hope that gives you a good overview and enough to get started. Dive right in or skip to your second mead for a few more tips and tricks to further your journey. Also, check out this simple cyser recipe for something to do with that apple juice. You will also find great reading in Brewing Mead: Wassail! that will give you many more options to explore.

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in How-To Brew


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New Blood (Irish Red)

I have designed a number of beers, many with the intent of being starter brews. As I laid out the training program I am working on, I realized all of the beers I had made so far fit better in different places in the curriculum, so I was again left with a hole in what would be my very first teaching beer. I toiled over what theme it would have to fit along with the others. Then, it finally hit me. In both brewing and gaming, we start out as newbs or newbies. Our avatar’s blood is spilled over virtual battlefields. We are lifted up by our comrades and with a little luck from the Irish that claim to have it, we live to play another day. It is that new blood that frequently invigorates our game. The New Blood brew was born and it quickly made sense that it would be an Irish Red.

Status: Final. The test group drank this one up quickly and didn’t have much more to say other than, “May I have another?”

New Blood (Irish Red)

OG: 1.060, IBUs: 18.8, SRM: 18, ABV: 6.5%

.5 lbs. Munich
.5 lbs. Crystal 20
.25 lbs. Marris Otter
3 oz. Roasted Barley
6 lbs. Light DME
1 oz. Kent Golding [5.2%] (bittering hops)
1 oz. Kent Golding [5.2%] (aroma hops)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast
5 oz. Corn Sugar (for bottle conditioning)

Apart from the play on the luck theme and the color, the Irish Red is fairly safe style for drinking as well. It is a balanced and flavorful beer that doesn’t come with any real surprises. Of the grains above, the Munich was added for its malty profile, the Maris Otter for a bit of nuttiness, the crystal malt for some caramel and sweetness, and finally the roasted barley for color. The Kent Goldings hops is a gentle and pleasant hop variety and a popular choice for the style.

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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Recipes


Prickly Pear Wine

20130808_214429A recent harvest of prickly pears left my fridge full of frozen fruit pulp and one of the main objectives was to try a batch of wine.  The wine is still in process, so we’ll see how well it comes out.  I crafted my recipe based on various sources over the internet and what I have learned about wine so far.  This post assumes that you already know enough about making wine to properly sanitize.

6 lbs. prickly pears, juiced.
3 qt. Water
2 lbs. sugar
Juice of 1 lime.
¾ tsp yeast nutrient
¾ tsp yeast energizer
¾ tsp pectic enzyme
Flor Sherry Yeast WLP700

OG: 1.090

I previously skinned 6 lbs. of prickly pears and froze what amounted to a little over 3 lbs. of pulp.  I like to freeze fruit that I am going to juice, as the freezing process helps to break down the cell walls.  I added a couple of quarts of water and brought it almost to a boil.  Then I strained the pulp and juice through a cheese cloth and was left with a little over three quarts of juice.

I topped it off to one gallon, added the lime juice, the yeast nutrient, and the yeast energizer, and the sugar.  Then I heated it back up to 165 degrees F to pasteurize it and to make sure the sugar was well dissolved.  Then, over an ice bath, cooled it down to room temperature. You must cool it down before doing anything else.  Higher temperatures from here on out will cause problems.

From here, I added the pectic enzyme and let it sit for 12-24 hours.  This will help to clarify the wine.  Then,  comes the yeast.  I choice Flor Sherry yeast.

I expect that some time down the road I will be back-sweetening it, though I haven’t yet planned on how to do that.  I will either use campden tablets and wine stabilizer, or time to kill the yeast.  Then I’ll add either a simple syrup mixture or perhaps prickly pear nectar.

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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Prickly Pears, Recipes



Prickly Pear Syrup and Soda Pop Recipe

Prickly Pear SodaAfter the great harvest of prickly pears, my first and most immediate need was to thank those that supplied the fruit.  While there will be wine and mead in the future, those are many months off and not the beverages of choice for everyone, so soda pop it is.  Notice the little nod to my Midwestern upbringing.  It has to start with the syrup; which by the way, can also be used for margaritas, lemonade, ice cream, or any number of things.

Prickly Pear Syrup

  • 2 cups pure unsweetened prickly pear juice (previously prepared)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime

Heat the liquids to dissolve the sugar.  Bring it to a boil.  Cool in an ice bath before pouring into the storage container of your choice.

Prickly Pear Soda (or Pop to the rest of my family)

  • 1 oz. Prickly Pear Syrup
  • ½ oz. additional Prickly Pear Syrup (optional)
  • 10 oz. Soda Water
  • 1 oz. ½ & ½ cream (optional)
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish (optional)
  • 4 oz. of ice

Mix all ingredients into a pint sized glass and stir.  The variable from 1 to 1 ½ oz. of syrup will allow you to range your mixture from light to a sweeter, more fuller-bodied soda.  Add cream for a creamy, smooth texture.  It is worth the extra purchase at the store.


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The Pulp of Prickly Pears: A Desert Harvest Adventure

Prickly PearsI was fortunate enough to find myself with over 30 lbs. of prickly pears for various culinary and fermentable adventures.  Thirty pounds is a lot of fruit and my carboys are full, but the season to pick this cactus fruit is now.  So my first task is to preserve the fruit so that I could tackle these tasks at my leisure.

A lot of wine and mead recipes called for 5-6 lbs. of fruit, so I divided my batch up into 6 lb. increments.  I found that 6 lbs. just about filled up a 1.25 gallon bucket that I use to buy 15 lb. batches of honey with.

Some of my reading said to grill the prickly pears just long enough to burn the picklies off.  This process was also to make them easier to skin.  So, I dumped six pounds of the cactus fruit on the grill and gave it a whirl.  I quickly suspected this wasn’t going to be my method of choice.  The grill was heated unevenly and too far from the flame to really burn the spines as effectively as I wanted.  It helped a lot, but at what expense?  The heat was causing the pears to juice out and I feared losing volume.   Worst of all, I had several more batches to go and this just didn’t seem to be very efficient. How much gain for my pain?

For the rest of them, I just decided to skin just as they came off the plant: raw and prickly as the name suggests.  Despite my leather gloves, I am still carrying tweezers around with me by the way.  If I were to try a burning method again, I think next time I will rig something up sort of like grilling marshmallows over an open flame.  At any rate, methods like this just seem more reasonable for smaller quantities of fruit.

As for the efficiency, it didn’t seem to loose me as much as I had feared.  The 6 lbs. of grilled fruit yielded me just over 3 lbs. of pulp and juice.  I weighed two of the raw increments.  One of them was just ½ ounce more; the other was close to ½ lb. more.  The raw increments had more pulp intact but still enough juice to be messy.  With such a limited sample, it is really hard to say how much the method really accounted for.  I suspect I was also becoming more efficient at gutting these little buggers.

Pulping the Prickly PearSpeaking of gutting and skinning, I developed a method I had not yet seen before that seemed to work pretty well for me.  Holding the fruit upside down, stab the fruit through just above the blossom and cut away from you toward the stem, cutting the fruit in half lengthwise.  This way you have two fruit halves held together by the blossom.  Use a spoon to clean it out like scraping the goody from an artichoke leaf; though the consistency of the raw fruit is more like eating a kiwi with a spoon.  Keeping the two halves attached just makes it easier that trying to put down and pick up the halves with a bulky cumbersome leather glove.

From here I just put the goody in freezer bags and froze them.  For most fruits that you intend to juice, freezing becomes a good part of the process anyway.  The ice crystals that form cut and burst open the cells allowing it to juice out much easier when you are ready for it.

When it came time to prepare the juice, I thawed out a bag and brought it to a boil, then strained it with cheese cloth.  From what was originally six pounds of fruit, I now had a little over three cups of juice with a specific gravity of 1.038.  It will need sugar, but it is packed full of flavor and will be the inspiration for many adventures to come.

Now that I have gone through this I am left with lingering questions that I want to someday resolve.  First, why did I bother skinning the fruit?  I saw a lot of articles on the internet about using a food processor to break up the goody for juicing.  What is wrong with putting the entire fruit in the food processor, then cooking it down and straining it?  Would the spines not get strained out?   Would there be any off flavors produced?  How do companies that sell prickly pear products do it on a large scale?

The other thing I discovered is that while the fruit looked ripe from the outside, some of the pulp was more kiwi green on the inside.  Is this going to make a difference?  Some fruit is still good when it is a little green.

If you know the answers to these questions or have anything else to add, please do.   Expect to someday see the final product of my prickly pear adventures.


Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Prickly Pears


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King Henry’s Country Beer (Smoked Southern English Brown Ale)

King Henry’s Country Beer (Smoked Southern English Brown Ale)

For the 2013 SCA Arts and Sciences competition, I set out to recreate a beer similar to what may have been brewed in the Middle Ages while still catering to the modern palate and be something I can enjoy and be proud to serve.  The first modern pallet sensibility requirement was the use of hops.  Before the hops became popular, ales used an herbal mixture called gruit.  This does not appeal to me or even most of today’s drinkers, so I let myself be inspired by a declaration made by King Henry VI in 1426.   Fermented malt beverage brewed with gruit was to be called ale.  If the beverage is to be made with the use of hops, it was to be called beer.  The terms ale and beer are not used in that way today, but in observation of the King’s declaration, this brew shall be known as King Henry’s Country Beer.

2 lbs    English Brown Malt
1 lbs    Oak Smoked Wheat Malt
2 lbs    White Wheat Malt
1 lbs    Malted Oats
1 lbs    Crystal 20
1 lbs    2-Row Barley
½ oz     Fuggle (UK) bittering hops (60 minutes)
¼ tsp     Calcium Chloride (added during the boil)
½ oz     Fuggle (UK) finishing hops (15 minutes)
1 oz     Irish Moss
Wyeast London Ale III 1318

OG: 1.039, FG: 1.015, IBUs: 16.9, SRM: 33, ABV: 3.1%

I used several sources when recreating this beer but I first wanted to find base style to use as a guideline.  Most modern styles recognized by the BJCP didn’t come about until the modern era, but the English Brown Ales had some historic relevance.  Beers brewed in England before the use of coal and were brown and smoky , and were only lightly hopped.    The malt bill for this style includes an appropriate variety of additional grains such as wheat and may have a fruity character that classic yeasts may add to the beer.   These characteristics point toward a smoked southern English brown ale.

It is popularly understood that it was common in the Middle Ages to brew three batches of beer from the same batch of malted grain.   This resulted in a range of beers from highly alcoholic to very mildly alcoholic.   In this sample, we are going to make one brew with an alcoholic content near that of or slightly stronger than what we would expect from the historical second batch.  The addition of smoked malt and malted oats will be a deviation from the modern style to more accurately reflect the period style beer.

The water is a very important base to the beer.  I start with clean filtered water from Water Street Station.  For this beer I am going to add ¼ teaspoon of calcium chloride to the batch during the boil based party on recommendation for the style of beer  and a hardening nod to a time before water softeners.

I had several English yeasts to choose from.  I choose the Wyeast London III for the fruity character it is reported to impart to give it a character that resembles the base style I choose.  This yeast is also a good choice for a healthy fermentation in the low 70s F home environment I have available to me and is still something that bears as much historic resemblance as any other English yeast I could choose from.  Historically yeast was kept from one batch of beer to the next , originating from regional wild strains.  Without that convenience and due to the fact that I live in an entirely different region of the world, I am just going to run to the brew store to pick up what I need.

English beer was often brewed from a mixture of malted barley, wheat, and oats.   I made sure to use brown malted barley for authenticity and touch of roasted character.  I then added some smoked barley malt, making sure to use Oak as would have been used in the region.   I sweetened it up with some crystal malt and balanced it off with generic 2-row barley.  The balance of these grains listed in the ingredients below should give me the right color, the right amount of fermentable and non-fermentable sugars, and enough enzymatic activity to convert the grain’s starches into those sugars.

I choose the UK Fuggle variety of hops for the region in which it was grown, the appropriateness and popularity it has in the chosen style of beer, and for the fact that it should add the required bitterness to the beer while still remaining mild and not over pronounced.

I used a single infusion mash at 155 degrees for 45 minutes and rigged up a continuous sparging system to free the wort from the grain. This diverts from the widely accepted period method of steeping the grains three times and extracting the water for three separate batches of beer .  This choice was made for the sake of efficiency and the fact that I really only wanted one batch of beer.  I use a modern immersion wort chiller for efficiency and sanitation to lower the risk of infection.  Then it sat on the yeast in a glass carboy for two weeks. In the Middle Ages fermentation would have likely taken place in wooden barrels , but wooden barrels are expensive.  I then bottled the beer with priming sugar for carbonation.  This is purely a choice for the modern pallet as carbonating beer was not a known medieval practice as the bottles just wouldn’t hold up to the pressure .

The combination of grains and temperature gave it the sweat flavor I was looking for.  The light smoky flavor and the light use of hops all came together to meet my expectations soundly.  I made this beer to celebrate the time period and to share, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Recipes


Fig and Blackberry Cordial

Fig and Blackberry Cordial

I thought for a moment that I would step outside of the beer brewing and mead making to do something different.  I was inspired by two things.  First, I wanted something that would be relevant to the arts within the Society for Creative Anachronism; a medieval re-creationist group I play with.  Second, this fig and blackberry tart that a wonderful pastry chef friend of mine packaged with a great catering package at one of our recent video shoots.

The flavors danced so well together that I just went on a fig kick.  I put figs in everything for weeks, finally soaking some in brandy.

Making cordials is pretty simple.  I let the liquor soak up the flavoring agents for 2-3 weeks, then strain and add a mixture of simple syrup to taste and let it sit for a few months to let heat of the alcohol settle and blend.

1.75 L Brandy VS
3 pints blackberries
17 oz. dried figs
1 cup simple syrup

The results were amazing.  It takes everything in me to save the bottles I need for competition.  I just might have to do this one again.  I got some great feedback from the recent competition.  It was a lot more fig than blackberry.  I didn’t mind this so much, but if I am to call it a fig and blackberry cordial, I should have removed some figs for more blackberries.


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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in How-To Brew, Recipes