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Friday, December 03, 2010

Yikes

I have let this blog become terribly terribly outdated. In my defense I have been very busy, although that's kind of a week defense. All my work on mead has now moved to a new site, now everything mead related is being done at The Mead Hall, my personal little slice of the intertubes. As I stated, I have been quite a busy little bugger of late, my fighting has been left by the wayside and my A&S projects are booming along at a good pace.

I am now officially the Seneschal of Trinovantia Nova, Patrov tricked me into the position a few months back (joking). I am enjoying the role, sort of, but it is keeping me busy. For those of you that are following this because you know my modern persona (Jeff Johnston) and know nothing of the weird cult of the SCA (not really a cult mom, don't worry), the Seneschal position is basically the equivalent of Chapter President. In medieval terms the seneschal was either a steward of a noble's house or (in the French Administration system) the King's representative charged with the application of justice. So in short, I guess I am now the "big man on campus" around Trino. In reality it translates to the guy who gets none of the credit yet all of the blame.

My biggest project to date has been re-engineering a sport, particularly Stoolball. This is a 14th century game which somewhat resembles cricket. Specifically I have been championing the creation of a Cider League Stoolball group of teams. So far we have only one team, the Trinovantian Merpegacorns. Sure I strong armed some people into it using my "clout" as a seneschal, what of it. Seriously it took almost no strong arming, people were quite excited about it. We had our first demo at Masq fairly recently. It went over very well. John of the Goldsworthy clan is not officially the league leader in stolen stools, despite the fact that stealing bases(stools) is not a legal maneuver. In my work at creating this I made (with my own two hands) two balls, two stools (milking stools), and a bat. The bat was the most interesting one to make, as the first attempt was so unwieldy I almost tossed it right out, but after the judicious use of a planer I manged to get it light enough to use.

I have started making my own garment, it started with an attempt at embroidery, that actually turned out quite nice. Since the embroidery turned into such a nice embroidered collar I am planning a whole outfit with considerable embroidered embellishments as part of my Pent entry. I know those who know me are going to have to re read that, yes I am sewing, I know I know I have told everyone I can't sew, well apparently even a big useless oaf like me can learn, who knew.

Well that about catches you up, hopefully I can keep this blog up to date.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Banana Mead

I am woefully out of date in posting this as it has been brewing for a couple of weeks now, but I have started a new mead. It is a banana mead. I have not quite seen a recipe quite like the one I used, as most recommend a bag for the banana and brewed like tea with the banana removed before full on brewing, but they all report the banana flavour to be weak. So I have decided to throw the banana straight into the must and hope for the best.

I have taken a number of frozen bananas thawed them with water and blended it until it was smooth and about the consistency of a milk shake. I then mixed it with honey and water at 1 part banana slurry 1 part honey and 3 parts water. this makes for quite a sugary mix, and I warn you make sure you have significant room for growth.

I am making a one gallon batch as a test batch to see if its worth the effort of making a larger batch, I have plans for it if it works well. I had only the neck of the demi-jon for growth and it came to quite a shock to me to see how fast the volume increased. Apparently yeast are rather fond of bananas. Due to quick thinking on Faye's part I put the demi-jon in the bathtub and closed the curtains, and it is a good thing too because in less then an hour it blew the bung and sprayed must almost to the ceiling. I have tasted it and the banana flavour is coming out slightly, if it doesn't increase I might just add some more banana to make up for the lost liquid from the explosion and to increase the flavour.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mead Update

Well the mead has not been bubbling for a while now alcohol content should be in the mid 8% level. I am thinking though that the biggest trick to this mead is patience. It is not the least bit clarified and is showing no signs of serious clarification. I am guessing it is the cocoa solids that are taking the longest to drop, I could try pectin, but then I'd have to clear that with bentonite, besides I really am looking for the mead to absorb as much of the cocoa flavour as possible and the best way to do that is allow it to sit on the cocoa solids as long as possible. Hopefully the mead will pull as much flavour out of the strawberries and cocoa as possible to make one heck of a unique mead.

Naturally I did a taste test. Its an interesting flavour. The strawberry hits you first, then the chocolate flavour follows. It already tastes pretty much as I hoped it would end up, the question will be if the chocolate flavour remains once the cocoa completely falls.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Youth In Charge Event

For a while now Margurite (Faye) and I have been considering planning an event which we are calling "Youth In Charge". This event will be an event run by the youth of Trino (and hopefully youth of all Ealdormere).

Yesterday we presented our sample budget and asked for a show of interest in hosting the event. I was expecting to have to justify why it would be a good event, instead what I got was a resounding love of the idea.

Robby Goldsworthy agreed to co autocrat it with me
Lilley (now going by Lys DuParis for the SCA) is co-feastocratting it with Margurite
and various other positions filled up rapidly. It was such a popular idea that we actually have enough volunteers to do a proper bid proposal. So it looks like I am going to try my hand and autocratting :D.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thinking of Another Mead Batch

I think I will attempt a banana mead, primarily because I can't seem to find any decent recipe for one. I am going to start with a one gallon batch and see if its any good, if it is I am hoping to do a gallon batch and fortify it with some premium Jamaican rum.

Faye jokingly suggested that the gold medal from Trillies is going to my head, perhaps she's right, but heck I am enjoying the experimentation, and hopefully I'll have some real different entries for next year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Orange Vanilla Mead

Obtained the recipe for Orange Vanilla Mead from the Lady who won Silver at War of The Trillium. I intend to take a look at it and perhaps adapt it to my own likes and so I would be able to get an accurate reading of the alcohol content. It was a wonderful orange pop type mead, would be great chilled on a hot day.

The Recipe:
20 lbs of raw honey, sweet mead yeast,one small bottle of pure vanilla extract and one large bottle of tropicanna oj. Added more vanilla and more oj about 1/2 way through fermentation after first racking. Was in carboy for 10 months. Until it cleared and airlock dropped.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mead Update

I had heard conflicting reports about attempting to make chocolate meads, one that the oils in the cocoa inhibited the growth of yeast, the other was that the yeast tended to produce at ridiculous rates. I think I am firmly in the camp that it produces at ridiculous rates. My chocolate strawberry mead is bubbling like crazy, in fact it blew the lid right off the airlock twice yesterday, and Faye tried to clean it up after the second time only to have it turn into a chocolate strawberry volcano.

It is a rather unique thing to watch bubble though. Most times the airlock on the mead bubbles at a constant rate, however with the chocolate mead it bubbles at an irregular rate, a pause then three or four rapid bubbles then a pause. After obsessing over this and watching it for close to half an hour this morning I think I figured out what was going on. The head on this mead tries to a semi solid state, it looks, and seems to have a similar consistency to moose. Unfortunately really the mead itself looks rather like a septic tank that is in desperate need of draining, but I am really hopping that it clarifies nicely and looses that particular quality.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Gold Medal Winning Mead

Although I did mention it in my WOT summary, some readers might not be interested in that stuff, so I thought it important enough to mention on a post all its own. My Oak Aged Chai Mead which is my Chai Mead aged with oak chips for six months won the gold medal at the Urich Von Den See Mead Tasting Competition. I am tremendously proud of this as the list of competitors included some very talented mead makers.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mead Update

Well after War of the Trillium I got back and tested the mead and was shocked to find out it exceeded my expectations and dried right out. the SG reading is 1.0, well actually a little below that but I figure 1.0 is close enough. This puts the ABV at about 7.2-7.5. I racked the mead into my large carboy and the fermentation kicked back into high gear, so it might actually even dry out some more and could climb a little higher.

Cú Allaidh Goes To War

I made it to War of the Trillium again this year, and once again it was a fantastic event. I geeked in many ways, and partied until I could barely stand.

I finally managed to fight a newbie tournament. Newbie tourneys are a tournament between anyone who has been authorized for less than two years. Its a great way for the green fighters such as myself to actually have a chance at acclaim by right of arms. Of course, even amongst newbies, I am not a very good fighter and was one of the first eliminated. The tourney was an Atlantian Speed Tourney basically everyone was pared off and fought simultaneously, then winners went to one side of the field losers to the other. If you were on the loser side and lost you were eliminated, if you were on the winning side and lost you went to the loser side. Then it was just whittled down from there. While I did poorly two other Trinovantians showed that us shirefolk are hardy and do not fall before a challenge. Victoria (I cannot recall her SCA name) and Lord Tadc had the honour of fighting each other for the gold. I cannot recall who won quite frankly, if anyone was there and recalls please refresh my memory.

I also participated in the individuals tourney, and lost just as fast there as at the newbie, but again had a blast doing it. The sun did me in on my final bout though and I decided that was the last of the fighting for the day. I am afraid I have gotten terribly out of shape after my battle with gout and need to work on endurance a fair amount.

In the A&S field I did not get my mead entered into the A&S competition, however I did get it into the Urich Von Den See 10th annual mead tasting competition. I had two entries, my Cyser and my Oak Aged Spiced Chai Mead. I entered the competition purely for the feedback not expecting to even place. However my Oak Aged Spiced Chai Mead won hands down, it was exceedingly popular. I have a gold medal to prove it and am ridiculously proud of the medal.

So I would say that WOT was a very successful event for me, and actually for our Shire of Trinovantia Nova who definitely won our share of medals. Wassail to all.