Monday, February 11, 2008

Midwinter A&S

I attended the Midwinter Arts & Sciences Collegium down in the Barony of South Downs over the weekend. This was a pretty relaxed event for me, since I didn't have anything entered. I really went expecting to spend the day judging entries in Performing Arts, but there turned out to be only one entry, with no shortage of judges. That was, in fact, the story in just about every category: few entries, plenty of qualified judges. Nonetheless, I did find myself appointed as judge for the Brewing and Vinting category. Yes, I took one for the team and helped judge Kojin's beer.

We may have set an odd precedent in the course of the judging. Baron Kojin had submitted a comparison of two substantially different brewing methods using the same recipe. He used the same proportions of malt, water, yeast, and other ingredients, but he prepared one batch of beer using modern equipment and methods while preparing a second batch following the period instructions as closely as possible. The period method involved boiling grain, draining wort, setting it aside to cool while boiling more grain, draining that, reboiling the first wort and draining it again, etc. The period method basically took twice as long, because modern technology to help extract sugars and protiens from grain wasn't available.

Interestingly enough, we all agreed that the period method produced a better product.

As to the odd precedent, Kojin entered the beer in the Brewing and Vinting category, but we judges all agreed that his project wasn't so much about the beer as it was about researching, reproducing, and comparing the period process. We therefore filled out a second entry form for him in the Historical Technology category and judged the whole thing again for that category.

Kojin got 18/20 for his Brewing and Vinting entry and 19/20 for the Historical Technology entry. Alas, he did not win top honors for the Midwinter A&S faire, as someone brought a kick-ass silk-production project (from worms to final fibers) that scored 20/20.

There was another combined European/Middle-Eastern revel at Midwinter A&S. While I appreciate the sentiment, I still think trying to alternate between the two in the same "ball" is a bit schizophrenic.

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