I have not posted in a while. Life has been a bit hectic. I decided that it might be a good idea for me to take a few minutes to assess where I am on several of my ongoing projects.
Hops and Menopause. I continue to search for more specific references to the historic use of hops to alleviate menopausal symptoms. I recently finished reading The Trotula but found no specific references to the use of hops for women’s health. It was a very interesting read and I discovered a lot of leads on some very interesting approaches to women’s health in the Middle Ages. I’m sure that it will be useful for future research. I have found a couple of new references in journals that provide additional modern support for the use of hops to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Nocino. My latest batches of nocino are going well. I continue to shake each from time to time. They’ll be ready for straining/filtering in a few weeks. The three batches are identical except the for “steeping” liquid: One grappa, one brandy, and one using plain old red wine. They all smell very interesting and I look forward to tasting the differences between them and between previous batches using more neutral spirits. I also continue to search for specific references in Period for the use of green walnuts.
Period Archery. This update is easy. I will be making more self-nocked arrows with horn inserts prior to King’s Companie of Archers event in September. I learned a lot making my first set of these types of arrows and I will use those experiences to produce a set that is more aesthetically pleasing.
Brewing. I have not gotten around to a project that I really want to work on. My friend Casey and I have discussed developing recipes and procedures for making all-grain one-gallon batches of beer using readily available equipment. My hope is that by outlining these recipes and procedures we can entice more people to try brewing. Consequently, we want to have virtually fool-proof recipes and procedures. Still a lot of work to do on this. I also made a deal with my lady, Simone (Solange) to teach her mead-making in return for me learning to French braid her hair. As soon as we get home for our recent trip to NY we will embark on those projects. I’m sure that she will end up being a better mead-maker than I am a braider. I really suck at that!
Studies in Yeast. A few new studies have been published that relate to my interest in the transition from ale to lager yeasts in 15/16th century Europe. The evidence continues to mount that the S. eubayanus strain of yeast is the most likely candidate that hybridized S. cerevisiae to produce the lager yeasts. I hope to summarize that research here soon.
Hops as sedative/hypnotics. This is an area that I’ve had interest in for some time. One of the observations from 18th and 19th century hop fields was that hop pickers tended to show high rates of sleepiness. It turns out that much earlier writings of Medieval and pre-Medieval physicians recommended hops as a sedative/hypnotic as well as an anti-anxiety agent. I’m currently working on identifying those references and linking them to the modern research on hops that connect the activity of specific neurotransmitters to these purported effects. More to come on this one!