by Viscountess Lucilla Theresa de Courtenay
Recently, the Æthelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers (affectionately known simply as the Brewers Guild) implemented a program designed to promote greater participation among its members as well as to entice new people to join the ranks: Points for Participation.
“We have been struggling for a couple of years to increase participation in guild activities,” said THL Madoc Arundel, the current head of the guild. “There are a lot of really decent brewers in this kingdom, and guild activities provide an opportunity for them to showcase their product.”
The goal of the new program is not just to get more brewers involved in A&S competitions, but to promote participation in many of the other opportunities available, such as roundtable discussions, teaching and attending classes, and largess.
“We looked at the archery and thrown weapon communities for inspiration. The ranking programs they have encourage people to shoot or throw as often as possible while rewarding improvement in their skills,” said Madoc. “The programs did not translate directly to the brewing community, but we were able to adapt the basic concept to a construct that works for us.”
The new program works on an individual rolling 12-month cycle, meaning that brewers can jump in at any time without missing out on opportunities. Points are awarded for attending or hosting roundtables; organizing, judging, entering, and winning competitions; publishing research or informative articles; contributing to social activities or largess; and teaching or attending classes with a brewing theme. The scale rewards both the breadth and depth of participation. As points are tallied, and thresholds are met, guild members receive a token of recognition of their advancement from Novice to Grandmaster.
Leading into the implementation of this new program, the guild has been promoting greater visibility of its members throughout the Kingdom. Beginning with the regional representatives reaching out within their regions to provide more organized opportunities. Currently, the goal is a minimum of one roundtable and one regional competition within each region every year. Regional representatives are also reaching out to event stewards and local A&S officers to ensure brewing considerations are taken into account whenever an A&S activity is planned for an event. Regional representatives and their contact information can be found at http://brewers.aethelmearc.org/org.html.
Since the implementation of the program in late September, roundtables appeared in Regions 2 and 4 with a focus on the historical ingredients in the various beverages brought by the participants. “I think a big part of AE brewers … is that they also don’t focus on the historic part of the drink. Isn’t that what we’re trying to change?” quipped THL Elska á Fjárfellí, the Region 5 guild representative. Elska is the point person on revamping and restructuring the guild’s competition program to make it easier for local groups to conduct a brewing competition either as a standalone activity or as part of a larger A&S activity. Additionally, the Fall Æcademy included three classes focused on alcoholic beverages: “What the Irish Drank” by Baron Charles O’Connor; “Judging an SCA Brewing Competition” by THL Madoc; and “Brewing a Basic Beer” by Lord Ulf the Barelegged. Classes are being developed or encouraged in future Æcademy and schola events, as well as War Practice.
Since the inception of the new program, sixteen people have qualified for the initial activity level of reward and two people have qualified for advanced levels. Any brewer, judge, teacher, student, activity coordinator, or A&S officer can report brewing activity for themselves or their constituency by sending an email to BVMGuild.Points@hotmail.com with the type of activity, the date/event, and the names of the people participating. “We are planning to announce the first group of achievers at BMDL Twelfth Night,” stated Madoc.
Learn more about the Points for Participation program at the unofficial AE brewers Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/248448708659644/) or the official Brewers Guild website (http://brewers.aethelmearc.org/).