Hello and Welcome to the West Kingdom
The Brewers' Guild is a loose association of people who get together occasionally to talk about what they do and love - and of course, to share samples, without which one can't really form a clear idea of other people's work. The Guild's primary mission, naturally enough, is to encourage the production of homemade beverages and promote the spread of research and information on brewing, and of course to improve the quality of homemade drinks by the availability of such information.
The Brewers' Guild recognizes four major categories of brewing: beer, wine (including mead and cider), cordials, and non-alcoholic beverages (fizzy soda and non-fizzy drinks). So, yes we include non-alcoholic beverages in our official program. We aren't sticklers for keeping what we do absolutely medieval: we wouldn't want to exclude root beer, for example, and not all medieval ales are suited to modern tastes. However, we encourage everyone to make and drink beverages similar to what was drunk in the middle ages, we just know it's not for everyone.
Our meetings are informal get togethers where we not only talk about what we've done lately but we pass around samples to better demonstrate the results. We also hold contests at Crown, Coronation, Coronet and Investiture events; participation in these is especially encouraged. No one need be associated with us to enter - just check the contest calendar in the front of The Page ahead of time, and if you have something that fits the contest's category, by all means bring it.
Now a word about documentation for competition entries: most of us aren't strict about it, though basic information about your entry is important. Documentation should not be a book-length dissertation on how people brewed in the middle ages. What you should include is your ingredients, a recipe (or a paragraph explaining what you did), the date you made it and the date you bottled (if applicable). If you can say where or when in the middle ages they drank a similar concoction, so much the better. Anything unexpected, like an ale that's supposed to be uncarbonated is also worth including. There's an example of documentation on page five.
The purpose of this pamphlet has been to briefly describe the Brewers' Guild. In many ways we're a lot like the Kingdom at large: we're inclusive and egalitarian, we have participants drift in and out frequently, and we try not to look scary. If you have questions we're happy to answer them, but you need to ask. And, if someone starts to participate but drifts off after a while, well, we understand that it's not for everyone. And in the meantime - ask not what your kingdom can brew for you, ask what you can brew for your kingdom.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Brewer's Guild
There's a better explanation (and definitions of all the jargon)
on the inside front cover of the Brewer's Guild Newsletter.
Proposed Contest List for the West Kingdom Brewer's Guild
Brewers' Guild Competition Submission Guidelines
How to Win A Brewing Contest
Let's start with the assumption that we are all good brewers capable of making a tasty batch of basic beer, mead, ale, cider or soda. So how then can you give yourself and edge in a contest? The easiest way is to write documentation for your entry. Documentation is not as painful as you might think, and often worth 10 to 20% of the points assigned in any contest.
Briefly, good documentation should contain these five things: 1) the current date and the name of contest being entered 2) the original recipe and where you got it from (including the date of the manuscript is helpful), 3) your interpretation of the original recipe, 4) a list of ingredients and quantities used 5) how you changed your brew from the original and why.
An example of documentation could be as follows:
A Caudle Made with Ale for Brewer's Guild Contest, March Crown, 1998
I found this caudle recipe in Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books Harleian MS 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS 1429, Laud MS 553, & Douce MS. 55. Austin, Thomas, editor. Published for the Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., London 1888. Page 113.
Caudele. - Nym eyron, & sweng wel to-gedere / chauf ale & do therto / lie it with amydon, do therto a porcion of sugar, or a perty of hony, & a perti of safron; boile hit, dresse it, florissh hit aboue with promme-garnet, and gif forth.
Caudle - Take eggs and whip them well together. Add ale to it, and add to the mix almonds. Add a portion of sugar, or a portion of honey and a part of saffron. Boil it, place it in a dish and flourish it with pomegranate seeds. Serve it forth.
To make this caudle I took:
- 1 cup beer
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons clarified honey
- 2 threads saffron
- pomegranate seeds
I blanched and peeled the almonds, then ground them finely. I put the almonds in a small pot and poured in 12 oz. of Newcastle Ale. I put the pot on the stove over low heat. I added two whipped eggs, mixing thoroughly and constantly to prevent the eggs from sinking to the bottom to make an ale omelet. When the eggs appeared cooked, I added honey and saffron. I poured the caudle into cups and sprinkled dried ground (fresh pomegranates are out of season) pomegranate seeds over it.
If your entry has no period recipe, write a few words on why it was likely such a brew would have been produced in period, or if a similar brew is described in a period source, feel free to quote from that even if no actual recipe is given. If you have a recipe that is already in modern English (for example a translated recipe from Le Ménagier de Paris or description from Pliny the Elder) you do not need to provide an interpretation. Please always list every ingredient that went into the brew, in case the judges are allergic to anything. There is noting wrong with altering a period recipe to make it more sanitary or palatable. If you change something, all you need to write is *why* you did it. Typewritten documentation is easier to read and will make the judges happy. Please resist the temptation to print your documentation in a fancy font, as they are difficult to read. Try to limit your documentation to one page or less, as more will probably not be read. Please do not ONLY copy stuff from the historical brewing sites off the web or photocopy a page from a book, judges like to see some original work.
O.K., the title lies. I had to, for if I wrote an article entitled, "How to Write Documentation" I don't think anyone would have read it.
Contact Information for the Brewers' Guild
No calls after 9pm, please, the yeasts are sleeping.
The Usual Disclaimer:
This page, like our newsletter, is an unofficial publication prepared by and for the members of the Brewer's Guild of the Kingdom of the West. The articles, opinions, and recipes published herein are strictly the responsibility of their authors and not of the SCA, Inc. or the Kingdom of the West. Please respect the copyrights of our contributors. Please contact Thea of Midvale if you would like to reprint any part of this packet.