Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Register of Alcohol, and a Rebranding

This blog is really no longer about my normal homebrewing, so I think it's time to rename it.

I'm going to take a page from Brewing with Egil and choose an appropriate mythical / historical patron for this blog.  Wikipedia suggests that there are two "candidates" for the mythical inventor of alcohol in China, Yu the Great and Du Kang.  Yu the Great did way too many things to be a reasonable patron since better known for (mythically) building the system of dikes and levees that ended flooding in China.  But Du Kang is really only known for alcohol, and has had poems and the like written about him, so I think that makes sense.

Fermenting with Du Kang it is!

I think it's also worth looking at some other texts that mention alcohol, particularly since I've had a moment to look through the bibliography from Science and Civilisation in China.  One very short book I had been looking at before I found the Qimin Yaoshu is the Jiupu (酒譜), the register of alcohol, a Song dynasty text by Dou Pin (竇蘋).  This isn't a recipe book, it's really just a page or two of quotations on the topic of alcohol.

One section that seems very useful is a glossary of a few terms about alcohol:

5 《說文》曰:酴,酒母也。醴,一宿酒也。醪,滓汁酒也。酎,三重酒也。醨,薄酒也。醑,莤酒也。

Shuowen [Shuowen Jiezi, an influential early 2nd century CE dictionary] says: 酴 [tú] is the mother of wine. 醴 [lǐ] is a one-night wine. 醪 [láo] is a wine with sediment in it. 酎 [zhòu] is a three-times wine. 醨 [lí] is a weak wine. 醑 [xǔ] is wine used for libations in ceremonies.

Láo is what the Qimin Yaoshu calls the glutinous rice wine I'm about to make, so I expect it to be cloudy.  I think that this means it's meant to be drunk young, but I'll have to experiment with the cloudiness.

Another interesting section:

皮日休詩云:「明朝有物充君信,酒三瓶寄夜航。」㰂酒,江外酒名。

A poem by Pi Rixiu reads: “Tomorrow morning has a thing that satisfies the gentleman’s trust, three bottles of jujube wine send off the night to sail.” where “jujube wine” is the name for a wine from beyond the Yangtse river.

I've got some dried jujubes and a recipe from another sources, so that might get on the list at some point.

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