This site is an online reference for re-creational medievalism, which involves making a sincere effort to reproduce the lifestyle of a race or region of the distant past. I am part of an organization dedicated to re-enacting life as a member of the Fifth Century (AD/CE) Irish Celtic nobility. If you found this page without checking my index page first, you will find more information there.

Echna's Celtic Brewing Page

I didn't experiment with brewing because I have a spiritual need to create alcohol (though, I do find many of the other re-enacting activities I do almost spiritual in the way they make me feel). I tried it because I wanted something other than clothing (or clothing-related items) to offer in trade. While brewing and cordial-mixing is something rather slow (even the quickest cordials take a few months to settle, and mead is supposed to sit for up to a year, some types even longer, before it's "aged" properly), I would have been able to make bigger batches than comparable time dedicated to sewing.

I especially liked the idea of making cordials, many of which age over a few short months. One afternoon's work, a few months of patience, and I thought I would have a viable product to donate to group events, or trade for goods I want and need. Plus, once I started, I'd be able to trade with others for recipes and advice to further increase my knowledge.


Cordial Notes

Cordials are flavored liqueurs that were produced during medieval times to aid in digestion, ro provide minor medicinal benefits, and of course, to enjoy the flavor. They are made modernly by adding flavoring to alcohol bases. Distilled liquor is usually used, such as gin, vodka, rum, or sometimes regular wine or brandy. White (clear) rum and brandy are available if you want to have control over the final color of your cordial.
Sample Berry Recipe
                                                                                  
4 cups of any fresh or frozen berry
scraped and chopped peel of one lemon
cloves
3 cups vodka or 2 cups vodka & 1 cup brandy or 2 c. brandy & 1 cup vodka or 3 cups white wine 

Lightly crush berries. Add to alcohol w/ lemon & cloves.
Steep 3 months in a tightly-sealed glass jar or bottle.
Strain out fruit and seasoning residue.
Sweeten to taste (using a sugar syrup composed of: 2 parts sugar/1 part water/boil till sugar dissolves).
Bottle in a tightly-sealed glass container. Age an additional 3 months.

This recipe provided by: Thea of Midvale West Kingdom Brewers' Guild (permission granted to reprint here).
Notes: additional flavoring can be added through the addition of pure extracts (vanilla, anise, mint, and others), pieces of cinnamon stick or other whole spices, drops of edible essential oils, etc. I have been told over and over again that experimentation is the key to mastery of cordial making. However, the base recipe should give you enough to start with.

Sample Concentrate Recipe

an empty 2 quart bottle
2 cups sugar syrup (as above berry recipe)
bottle of commercial concentrate

add commercial concentrate and syrup to 2 quart bottle.
Fill with alcohol of your choice.
Shake and age.

This recipe provided by: Thea of Midvale West Kingdom Brewers' Guild (permission granted to reprint here).
Notes: You can also use regular bottled juice (make sure it is 100% juice). Just make sure (by tasting) that you have a good mix of sweetened juice to alcohol. Liquid extracts and oils can be added to adjust the flavor. If you keep everything liquid, you don't need to waste time steeping, you can just begin ageing right away.

Cordial Experiments Online

On November 19, 1998, I put up my first batch of cordials. I included the initial recipes here, the process advances, notations as to what went wrong, what went right, and what sort of future changes I think I would have to make to me more successful.

Notes:
I sat down Thursday night and decided to mix up cordials. I had 1 bottle of white rum, and 2 of vodka, plus an assortment of spices (cinnamon sticks, cloves, various extracts), and I discovered that you can buy lemon and orange zest in the seasoning section of the supermarket (I always peeled zest the hard way), and some fresh and frozen fruit. I also had a limited number of glass jars I could use, having not considered that part of it until too late. Luckily, my son drinks apple juice by the gallon, and we had a couple bottles that hadn't gone out with the recycling. Plus, I had some never-used canning jars that were sitting around gathering dust. I thoroughly washed and bleached everything before using it. The canning jars I also tossed in the dishwasher.

The worst part was standing there going..."Hmmm...how much lemon zest from the jar is enough. Hmmm...how much extract should I use...hmmm...". Finally, I just decided to mix and see what happens. The worst that happens is that I ruin $30 worth of alcohol and fruit. Not that much of a waste :). The best is that I figure out what sort of proportions work best. I tried to stagger the amounts of extract to be smaller with each batch.

What I Learned From This Experiment:

Random Thoughts:


Cordial Links


Mead-Making

I have not yet started a batch of mead, but, I have future hopes of eventually trying it.

In the meantime, here are some links of interest.


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Updated: Saturday, December 06, 2003