I spent last week attending Pennsic, and brought my lumpy yeast cake wine to the Arts and Sciences display,
as well as the inter-kingdom brewing competition and the East kingdom brewers' guild panel. What a blast! Getting to share this weird beverage with so many people was really fun, especially since some people actually liked it, and some people really hated it.
About 60 people came by my booth at the A&S display and tried the millet wine, consuming a little over half a gallon. What I didn't know at the beginning is that the wine settles out very quickly, so by the end of the display, I was pouring something the consistency of pancake batter. The flavor didn't change much, so I suspect that the heavy notes of bread are coming from the suspended yeast. More study is needed to figure out what the flavor is like after letting it settle for a few weeks.
I got a lot of great feedback at the brewing competitions. Of course, I'd really love to make the source yeast cakes rather than using commercial yeast balls, but I also want to get a better understanding of how this wine (and the other related wines in the book) fit into the broader spectrum of Chinese alcohols and production techniques. I'd also like to figure out how these wines were drunk in period, out of what vessels, and in what contexts.
A really really brief search for answers at the wonderful ctext.org shows at least one text from about the same period as the Qimin Yaoshu mentioning millet wine specifically, and skimming it I think it's talking about using it for some alchemical purpose. Neat! More reading is required.
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