Last year I wrote a post about what I planned to do in 2016. Now that 2017 is here, I thought I should write about what happened during 2016 and outline my plans for 2017.
First, I found myself experiencing vertigo early in 2016 (and still persisting a little) and it disrupted some of my plans. I accomplished less brewing than I intended and did fewer archery-related activities than in most years. Still, it was a fairly productive year. I shot Period archery equipment for the entire year and continued to improve my scores. I also became the Royal Brewer for the Kingdom of Calontir.
I continue my research on two topics. The first involves what modern science can tell us about the transition from ale to lager yeasts in the 15th/16th century. I continue to do research and add to my series entitled Adventures in Yeast (parts II, III, IV, V, & VI). I combined some of this research and added additional research for a paper I submitted to Kingdom Arts & Sciences last year. I’m a little behind on my reading in this area and I hope to post some updates in this series soon.
I also continue to research Nocino, that luscious digestif made of unripe walnuts and their hulls. I’ve seen many references to nocino as having its roots in Medieval Europe, but I’ve never seen any Period references that satisfied my desire to document the making of such a drink. However, this situation changed on the final day of 2016 when I found a reference in a c.1552 document written by the Swiss Botanist Konrad Gessner (also, Conrad Gesner): Thesaurus Euonymi Philiatri. In this publication, Gessner states:
The water of walnuts not rype made aboute saint Ihons tyde.
To me, this fits nicely with modern references to the use of unripe walnuts gathered on June 24th, the Feast of John the Baptist. This is the first actual Period reference I’ve been able to find that seems to validate modern assertions that a walnut liqueur was made in Period. Gessner goes on to talk about the possible uses of this formulation and includes things such as anthrax. I am quite excited to find this and I continue to search for addition documentation.
Something I planned for 2016 and never got to accomplishing was the design of relatively fool-proof all-grain recipes for a single gallon of beer. My good friend Casey Letellier and I have discussed this several times. The goal was to develop recipes that can be brewed with a minimum of specialized equipment. Our hope is to develop recipes that will allow beginning brewers to make good beer without making a huge investment in equipment.
I will be retiring from my professional career in May, 2017. I hope that this will provide me with more time to pursue my avocation in the second half of this year!!