Category Archives: Competitions

A&S, Guild-sponsored, Royal Brewer

Royal Brewer 2016

Vivant the entrants in this year's Royal Brewer competition! Lord Jaume organized early and organized well. He published the Royal Brewer competition requirements, as one does if one is the current Royal Brewer and Kingdom Arts and Sciences is coming up. He also read Kingdom law (!) to find that the judges are supposed to include the Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences (KMoAS) or designated representative, and Their Majesties or their designated representative.  (The ultimate decision for Royal Brewer is up to Their Majesties - it's not necessarily the scored result of the competition that is the deciding factor - so it's important that they have someone at the table if possible.) Lord Etienne le Mons' promised Jaume to designate a surrogate, since he's KMoAS and  Kingdom A&S is a pretty busy day for him. But - and this is new in my experience - Jaume secured Their Most August Majesties Christoph and Adelheit themselves to come taste, and consider. Their Majesties came to the Royal Brewer table  first thing in the morning (!!), and proceeded from us to the Royal Baker competition sharing a room with us. I may have overheard a quiet comment that they were glad  to see there was bread next. Now, Their Majesties are not brewing judges and don't pretend to be, so Jaume guided them in the sorts of questions one asks when one is tasting. First and foremost, do We like it? Is it especially nice?  Anything off or unpleasant? Her Majesty had a preference for sweeter tastes than His Majesty, so She particularly appreciated the range of cordials Lord Eirikr ulfr þorrison entered. I kept notes of their comments for the judges to use later. I also kept track of which beverages they especially liked... Next up, Jaume and the KMoAS' designate, Master James of Middle Aston, tasted each entry and scored them according to the familiar Guild form that Jaume had announced he would use. Master James knows a thing or two about brewing himself and has helped us out before. They consulted the notes about Their Majesties' preferences and conferred carefully. Jaume was involved in a (particularly delightful) Commedia presentation, so he gave me the results and sent me off to the Royal Room to report in and await Their Majesties' decision. Results were close, and it was gratifying to see that Their Majesties took the decision really seriously, taking  time to decide. When all was said and done, Lord Seamus MacWhellan was declared this year's Royal Brewer. As for me, other than taking notes for Their Majesties and doing some scampering about for Jaume, I had only one more task - asking the brewers of the beverages Their Majesties liked best whether they minded too much if that bottle didn't go home with them. Of course, everyone said yes - interestingly, Their Majesties commented on particularly liking at least one entry from each brewer. I packed up a carton of resealed bottles very carefully and stowed it in the back of the Royal Conveyance.  It is quite an honor to have your brew personally chosen by Their Majesties. It is quite a pleasure to have Their Majesties take such an interest in our wares! So Vivat! for our accomplished contestants, Vivat! for Lord Seamus, and a special Vivant! for Their Majesties who appreciate a good homebrew!

Competition Forms

You can find the most updated version of the A&S judging form for brewing here: Atlantia A&S Forms http://moas.atlantia.sca.org/judging/ The Atlantian Judging Guidelines are Atlantian Judging Guidelines: http://brewers.atlantia.sca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Atlantian-Judging-Guidlines.pdf The current version of the Guild forms are here: Brewers Guild Competition Form http://brewers.atlantia.sca.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Brewers-Guild-Competition-Form.pd  

2015 Royal Brewer competition

Lord Terafan and a table covered with brewing entries and the prizes for Royal Brewer

Lord Terafan at the ready

I am so sorry, everyone, I thought I'd published this back in March. I didn't remember I'd meant to read it through one more time. Raven's Cove had done a bang-up job organizing this KASF. It was held at the Mad Boar in Wallace, NC, a beautiful restaurant with meeting rooms, and upstairs our main hall with a stage (Commedia!). It's richly paneled in dark wood, with a deeply carved ceiling and stained glass here and there.  Both Royal Brewer and Royal Baker competitions were downstairs in a wood paneled, crystal-lit side room, far enough from the madding crowd that we could concentrate. The organizers had put out plenty of signs, some quite humorous, so it was easy to find. In the room, there was a beautiful sign marking our table - and one for the Bakers, of course. Even though both Lord Rhys ap Terafan and I got there early to check out our arrangements, one Lord Eoghan had gotten there even earlier, and left both his entries and filled in judging forms for us. Gotta love a prepared man. Somehow Lord Terafan judged the Persona Pentathlon in the morning, then came down and judged RB all afternoon. I might've had a single brain cell left after trying to do that, but he was taking it all in stride. Our then-current Royal Brewer, Lord Brian Crawford, had been called away by mundane duties (something called "drill") and could not be there to run the Royal Brewer competition this year.  Lord Brian had been careful to announce the categories and guidelines for this year's competition months in advance so people could prepare, but now he had to scramble to line up everyone and everything to run without him.  He'd asked me to come judge quite a while ago, and he reached out to Lord Rhys ap Terafan,  Atlantia's first (and only other) brewing Laurel. Brian's gracious  wife, Lady Eleanor, was our go-between. She ported the Regalia, the venerable RB pitcher, and some beer (including his yummy take on William Harrison's Ale) for the judges. Any day that starts with a gift of good beer must be propitious! Terafan and I promptly divided those up and set them aside to take home.  Thank you Lord Brian!
prizes for Royal Brewer - regalia box, wooden cups, and ceramic pitcher

Regalia box, honored pitcher and cup-and-shaker set for the new Royal Brewer

We laid out the prizes for display- the Regalia, the venerable pitcher, and a gold-and-brown wood drink set that was my personal gift to the new RB. We laid out more judging forms, more pens, filled our own pitcher with water, set the dump bowl, towels and tasting glasses, and eyed the table crowded with bottles. This year's competitors were going to earn bragging rights, this was going to be a stiff competition. There are plenty of people who think the Guild just gets together to drink, and that judging competitions is just another excuse to get wobbly.  Let me tell you, it ain't like that. We had a lot of entries and only two hours to go through them all, trying to stay fair and consistent. Afterwards, one of us was going to have to speak to King Michael to inform him of our results and impressions and receive his selection of winners. One of us was going to have to stand up before King and Court and everyone to announce the results.  As it turned out, I got Lord Terafan to do both of those things, though he asked me to write up the announcement. Sometimes, especially in the SCA, one receives an unexpected, delightful gift of service.  In our case, Lady Eilon bat Miriam stepped in to manage the scoring, sorting, and final calculations, mercifully keeping us organized. My ability to perform basic arithmetic crumbles when I'm "in combat" - don't snicker, I'm slow on a good day. Lady Eilon totally took care of the administrative end of things.
wooden Regalia box to hold medallion etc.

The new Royal Brewer regalia box made by Lord Brian Crawford

First the beers - not too many this year, which was surprising. There are usually lots. Then the meads, sorted from traditional not-so-sweet to very sweet and/or strong flavored.  Then the cordials - there were lots and lots of cordials, with flavors ranging from sweetly fruity to strongly botanical.  I'm not saying it isn't fun, and gratifying to see so many entries, but we were working so hard we gathered a peanut gallery of folks hanging out to listen and watch. All of them, of course, were brewers themselves, so we got to meet some new folks! (Well, not new to Atlantia necessarily, but new to us.) We shared tastings of particularly delightful or interesting brews with our onlookers after we'd finished our forms - always with one eye on the time. We finished with about fifteen minutes to spare - enough time for Lord Terafan to go discuss things with His Majesty, and for me to get the Regalia and prizes upstairs to the main hall. I stopped to admire the new Regalia box Lord Brian had made. The old one was an aged men's faux leather jewelry box which looked as though it had held cufflinks or a tie tack many, many years ago. It had served us well for a long time, but the new box (see the picture above) is much, much nicer. Court went well; in fact it was one of the warmest and funniest Courts I've attended in quite a while. Lord Terafan thanked our outgoing RB Lord Brian. Lord Jaume de Monçó was duly installed as King's choice for the next RB. I expect you'll see him around, wearing his well-earned medallion with pride. Submitted this day in honor of bee and brew, Sorcha Crowe    

St. Arnulf Ingredient Challenge Results A.S. 49 (2015)

Good Gentles, The Company of St. Arnulf wishes to congratulate Lady Evelynn Merrymet on winning our inaugural Specialty Ingredient Challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to encourage brewers who experiment with unusual period ingredients, and we were delighted to taste Lady Evelynn's spiced rosehip cordial, which featured, among other ingredients, fennel and rosemary. We hope this competition will continue for many years to come, and it is with pleasure that we announce the lists for the next two years. Once again, judging will take place at the Company's tavern at Ymir. The rules will be as before: we put out a list of ingredients, and ask that brewers prepare a beverage which features any two or more things on the list. The list changes every year (though some things make return from previous lists if we'd like to see more of them). Documentation is welcomed but not required; as our primary goal is to encourage brewers to familiarize themselves with unusual period brewing ingredients, we welcome inventive applications and so do not require that the beverage entered be a historical one.
For 2016, the ingredient list will be as follows:
Almond Citron Leaf Cloves Hyssop Ligonberry Meadowsweet Peas Pomegranate Raisins Sweet gale As we know that makers of meads and cordials benefit from a sufficiently long time to age their product, we are also pleased to announce the list for 2017:
Bacterial fermentation
Cherry
Date
Galangal
Heather
Lavender
Millet
Sage
Sour orange
Yarrow
For the "bacterial fermentation" item, we still welcome beverages that are primarily fermented with yeast (whether Saccharomyces or other species), but to count this as one of the two ingredients used the action of bacteria must contribute to the flavor of the finished product.
We look forward to your entries in future iterations of this competition. Please forward the rules and ingredients lists anywhere you feel is appropriate.
YIS,
 - Jaume de Monçó
Schenkewirt, Company of St. Arnulf

Atlantia Arts and Sciences judging

This is a whole different ball of wax from Guild judging.  For one thing, the judges are likely to be historically very knowledgeable, but not brewers.  You really have to explain yourself to accommodate the different expertise. You can find the most updated version of the A&S judging form for brewing here: Atlantia A&S Forms.   Our own Master Terafan, Atlantia's first Laurel in brewing and current Clerk of Law, had a large hand in creating the Brewing A&S form. The A&S site tells you a lot about what they're looking in a display or competition. There's a real desire in the A&S world to not be daunting; like us, they want more people to participate and think this is fun. There's a lot of transparency.  Also, you can always ask whoever is organizing the A&S event you are thinking of participating in about what to expect when you get there. That said, you may want to let the organizer know you're bringing beverages, in case they want to get a couple of Guild members in to judge... EZ-Doc is a fill-in form for A&S documentation - very, very helpful, available on the A&S site; use it for A&S competitions. There is also a "Quick Explanation of Judges Codes", which is supposed to be distributed with the judging form, and is worth taking a look at. If you're asked to judge brewing in an A&S competition, please look at the form and the codes well ahead of the event!    

Atlantian Guild Competitions

Thinking of entering a brewing competition? Congratulations! Good for you! It takes a bit of courage and preparation.  We are always excited to meet more folks interested in the medieval ways of making alcoholic beverages. For most of us, competitions are for getting feedback and learning. Presentation You MUST mark your bottle - a label or well-attached tag - with your name and a list of ALL the ingredients, or it won't be considered. we favor good bottling methods - leaning toward the modern - but if you present in a period-appropriate way that's good too - more points for explaining why you chose what you did in your documentation (1 paragraph will do). Categories  Our customary categories are beer/ale, mead/wine, cordials, and sometimes non-alcoholic beverages.   Note that the categories may change, and should be declared well ahead in the event notice or host's webpage.  Certainly as soon as we get word we'll add it to this website in the calendar notes for that event. (For example, at one Sapphire Joust there was a prize for Best Period Blue Drink (documentation required).  The winner made a cabbage cordial that was nearly navy blue at the bottom of the bottle. ) Cordials There are particular issues presenting a period cordial, which are discussed in this post. Documentation  We want documentation, but we don't want a lot.  Two or three pages will do.  This is one of the big differences between the Guild and an A&S competition.  For the Guild, we want to know what historical recipe you're using, your redaction (what you actually did; there are always compromises), and what you'd do differently the next time you make it. Bibliography  We want a bibliography - you got that recipe somewhere, so tell us where.  We'd rather you went to the original source.  These days a lot of our best sources are on Google Books, Google Scholar, Project Gutenberg, or a similar website.  Your friendly local SCAdian brewer may have a copy of the book. Sometimes you have to use three or four historical sources to figure out what the original author was talking about - show them.   If you also referred to modern sources, include them. Judging  At Atlantian Guild competitions, we always try to have three judges present. Scores are usually an average of the three individual scores. We encourage brewers to be present when their entries are discussed so they can hear what the judges are looking for, receive feedback, or possibly answer questions.  A competitor generally doesn't offer up conversation or information unless the judges ask.  For one thing, it distracts the judges, who are always on a time schedule (even if they're glad to see you and forget that schedule for a moment). One of the features of judging an SCA brewers' competition is that you never know what entries are going to show up.  Judges may adjust their scoring according to what entries they have. That's considered to be fine, as long as the same adjustment applies to everyone and is fair to all entries, and all the judges agree to it. A certain amount of  subjectiveness is part of any judging process. While most of our judges are pretty experienced, and try hard to be both fair and consistent, there can be judges who, that day, really care what kind of cork you used. It happens. Judging Forms When these were created, circa 2008, they were meant to be working drafts. These were never meant to the be the permanent forms, we just never got back to amending them. There's a project, if you're looking for one... The competition form is not always used with the guidelines rubric. Brewers Guild Competition Form Atlantian Judging Guidelines