Not so simple drinks for a Simple Day Feast

The Drunken Duck was set up as an avenue to highlight historical brews and give homebrewers across the Middle Kingdom ( and sometimes the Known World) a chance to share their historical creations.

Therefore when a supporter and wife of one of our contributors asked if we could donate some historical brews to an Irish Feast she was constructing, we just HAD to say yes.

Liadan, the Feast’s creator and Steward put together an amazing 4 course Irish Feast, so we just didn’t want to put some ale or meade on the table and be done with it. Instead we tried to create a sampling of historical brews, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic to go with each of the course.

Information for medieval Irish beverages are incredibly limited, though we know that milk and oat based drinks played a large component. However, we really did not just want to put down milk or buttermilk and call it a day, so we turned to Irish literature for influences.

The Vision of Viands
Wine in well rose sparkling,
Beer was rolling darkingly
Bragget brimmed the pond.
Lard was oozing heavily
Merry malt moved wavily
Through the floor beyond.

For the rest of the drink menu we relied on generic period techniques, humors, and some of our go to favorites.

    • The drink menu we came up with is:
      First Course: The Salmon of Knowledge

    • Alcoholic: A selection of Hot and Dry hypocras Liquors to stoke the stomach’s furnace
    • Non Alcoholic: A Hot and Dry Ginger syrup to keep the stomach’s fire burning.
        Second Course: An Dagda’s Boar
    • Alcoholic: A traditional gruit slightly spiced with rosemary, thyme and lavender. 3.5%
    • Non Alcoholic: An garden syrup of apples and mint to accompany the homegrown greens in the course.
        Third Course: Fionn Mac Cumhall’s First Hunt
    • Alcoholic: White Rose Wine pétillant-naturel in a sweet in young style.
    • Non Alcoholic: Rose Water Syrup to keep the appitite strong.
        Fourth Course: Smeara agus Cno
    • Alcoholic: Blackberry Hazelnut Honey Whiskey Cordial to add a kick to the Pudding.
    • Non-Alcoholic:  Spiced Barley Water to soothe the stomach after a fabulous meal.

With 4 courses, 100+ people present and some of the drinks hitting as high as 20% abv, it just was not feasible to give each person their own bottle of homebrew. Therefore, each table will be given a bottle, so they can wet their whistle and try out the medieval beverages, with additional bottles at the bar in case people would like a little extra. Unfortunately, most people only really pack 8 ounce cups for feasts, which would have been way too large for a majority of the sampling, so we are donating over 80 hand painted 2 oz tasting cups to every person who is attending the feast.span style=”

For those who are partaking in the non-alcoholic beverages, though they can be tasted by themselves, they are far more enjoyable mixed with water, milk, carbonated water, or other non-alcoholic beverages. Water, ice-tea, and lemonade are all being provided by Liadan and her feast team. However we will have carbonated water available at the bar for anyone who would like a little bubble to their homebrew.

Per SCA Policy on Liquor (VIII)

Manufacturing, distributing, selling, serving, or furnishing of alcoholic beverages by the SCA or its branches or subdivisions is prohibited within the United States and its territories. The use of any SCA funds for the purchase of potable alcohol, except for such quantities as may be necessary for cooking, is prohibited in the United States and its territories. Officers are not prohibited from serving alcohol; however, it must be done as individuals, and not as part of their official duties as officers.

Therefore, ALL ingredients used in the creation of the homebrews and the homebrews themselves are donations by The Drunken Duck and it’s contributors. In addition, all drinking vessels being gifted to those present are also donations by the Drunken Duck due to the kind support and appreciation of the Drunken Duck supporters. In order to consume any alcohol supplied by the Drunken Duck, everyone must be of legal drinking age with an ID. A limited number of special “under 21” sampling vessels will be provided.

As with all Drunken Duck events, all drink offerings are available as a donation. Of course financial donations are always greatly appreciated as that just allows the Drunken Duck to organize and brew more medieval beverages.

Legs & Head of a Good Brew

With terms like Head, Body, and Legs you could be talking about a beauty contest- but in these terms we are looking for the finest glass of homebrew you can imagine. From Absence of off odors to Taste appropriate to type, here are some of the brewing terms used most often in SCA and modern world judging.

Components  •   Mouth Feel  •   Smell  •   Taste  •   Other  •   “Off” Flavors

The full class notes (pdf version) can be found here.


  • Acid- Detectable presence of sourness normally in wine
  • Alcohol- Detectable presence of ethanol in the beverage
  • Carbonation-Fizz due to CO2
  • Clarity-Quality of being clear. Lack of sediment
  • Color-The pigmentation of the liquid within the brew
  • Head Quality-The foam quality on the top portion of the beverage
  • Hop Characteristic-Bitterness and aroma from hops if used/
  • Lacing-Pattern left by the head as it moves down the glass
  • Legs-A visible indicator of a drinks weight


  • Body-Texture or viscosity in the mouth
  • Finish-The feel and the taste in the mouth after the liquid has left the mouth
  • Tannin-The dry feeling in the mouth.


  • Aroma-Components perceived by the nose of both scent and flavor
  • Bouquet-A characteristic or particular scent


  • Aftertaste-Lingering flavor after the liquid has left the palate
  • Flavor- Taste
  • Sugar- Amount of sweetness or taste of the sweetening agent
  • Sugar/Alcohol Balance-Sweetness to ethanol balance
  • Sweet/Dry balance-Sweet to non-sweet balance as determined by the beverage type
  • Sweetness-Noticeability of the sugars
  • Taste-Sensation of flavor as perceived in the mouth and throat


  • Presentation-The manner in which the beverage is displayed
  • Documentation-The history of beverage type as well as the creation process

“Off” Flavors or Odors

  • Acetaldehyde-Grassy, Acetic
  • Alcoholic- Hot, Spicy, Vinous, Warming or Burn in throat
  • Astringent-Dry, High Tannin, Puckering
  • Bitterness-Felt on back on tongue and roof of mouth
  • Buttery-Mouthfeel, slickness on palate, butterscotch
  • Cardboard- Stale bread, cardboard, wet paper. Wood like aftertaste
  • Cooked Corn-Vegetable or oyster like flavoring
  • Fruitness-Esters or any fruit like flavoring
  • Light Body-Water or weak
  • Grassy-Fresh cut grass
  • Grainy-Spent grain, starchy, cereal like
  • Phenoli- Plastic or medicinal
  • Musty: Earthy, musty, cellar like
  • Sourness: Tart, Sour, Vinegar like
  • Solvent Like: Pungent, harsh, acetone like
  • Sulfury: rotten eggs, burnt rubber,
  • Sweet: Sugary, Syrupy