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by Viscountess Lucilla Theresa de Courtenay

Countess Anna Leigh has conspired to create yet another fun activity at War Practice coming up this spring: the Great Beverage Showcase & Social. What does this entail, you may ask? Very simply, it is part competition, part social event, part inter-guild round table. The Showcase & Social brings together three of Æthelmearc’s guilds to present beverages of all types in a competition involving three different tiers of judging. Entrants will be able to choose the tier in which they compete: the Master level, which will be conducted in much the same manner and to the same standards as a Kingdom A&S; the Artisan level, which will be judged formally, but for which the documentation requirements are not nearly so stringent; the Aspirant level, which will be judged by the populace attending the social event. While the more formal judging is taking place, the populace at large will be enjoying a variety of beverages made available by those who revel in watching other people “enjoy drinking their stuff.”

The Grand Beverage Competition portion of the activity includes three guilds, each responsible for judging within their area of responsibility. The Æthelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers will judge alcoholic beverages created through fermentation.

AEthelmearc Brewers’ Guild

The Æthelmearc Herbal & Apothecary Guild will judge cordials and potable infusions.

Æthelmearc Herbal & Apothecary Guild

The Worshipful Company of Cooks & Bakers will judge non-alcoholic beverages of all types.

Æthelmearc Cooks Guild

There will be prize winners in all three tracks, as well as at both levels of competition: Master and Artisan. The Social portion of the activity allows any beverage maker to showcase their wares without having to worry about documentation or critique, although Aspirants will be able to seek more formal evaluation of their beverages if they choose. Prizes will also be awarded for how the populace and a few VIPs judge the Aspirant beverages.

Her Excellency called on the heads of the various guilds to assist in bringing her vision to fruition. I had an opportunity to speak with these folks and get some perspective on this rather unusual concept for a competition.

Interviewer (I): This is a slightly different take on competitions. How and why did you conceive of this event?

Anna Leigh (AL): Opportunities for beverage makers to participate in many A&S activities have been shrinking due to the rise in the number of dry sites. This is an opportunity to bring the populace of the kingdom together for a good time as well as to celebrate those who willingly provide our libations.

Madoc Arundel (MA) (Brewers Guild): Anna Leigh contacted me about a multi-tier brewing competition. We brainstormed a bit before realizing that this was an excellent opportunity to bring multiple guilds together.

I: What advantages do you see from a competition structured in this manner?

AL: It’s an open and inviting construct. We invite everyone of any skill level, experience, or desire to participate without the pressure of the more formal constructs.

Maggie Rue (MR) (Herbal & Apoth): Allowing people to join in for a populace vote without worry of being judged will provide a “safe” haven for those that feel daunted by rubrics and highly authentic competitions. It also allows people to decide whether or not they wish to be judged on a heavier scale, in turn, allowing those who want to be recognized for their accomplishments to push themselves even harder.

Arianna Dal Vallone (ADV) (Cooks & Bakers): Having a populace category without documentation will encourage more beginners to try. I know as a young SCAdian, documentation was the most intimidating thing for me, and it took me almost three years to work up the courage to enter an A&S competition because of this.

I: How does this event promote your specific guild?

ADV: It will allow cooking enthusiasts a chance to look at a side of the art they tend to ignore or lump in with brewers’ arts.

MR: The herbalists and apothecaries would have been the top places in period for obtaining tonics, medicines, and alchemical potions of a myriad of types; a contest such as this will help the H&A Guild introduce themselves to the rest of the kingdom.

Elska a’ Fjarfelli (EF) (Brewers Guild): The more that people know about what the guilds can do for them, the more people are likely to join in our fun.

I: From your perspective, how will this event promote interactivity between the guilds?

MR: I think an event such as this will allow the guilds to see how much they have in common and how much they should be working together to create a better Society.

ADV: It will begin a dialogue between brewers, cooks, and apothecaries.

MA: Where beverages sit in the A&S spectrum has been a topic of discussion for decades. By involving all three guilds in this endeavor, we show a united understanding of how to promote the research and creation of any beverage, regardless of which guild takes responsibility for it.

I: What do you hope will be the long-term benefits?

AL: By creating a fun opportunity to mingle and meet people, structured around an open and welcoming competition, we’ll generate excitement for the various beverage crafts and help the community grow.

EF: As long as it is integrated with the guilds, feeding into and promoting their structure, I hope to see a renewed interest in historic beverage-making.

ADV: A better communication between the guilds in Æthelmearc, which can only make us stronger. More attention to beverages in our arts and sciences.

MR: I am hoping that this will lead to more inter-guild competitions as well as inter-kingdom competitions, and that the guilds may end up working together to autocrat various events such as academies and collegiums, even going so far as to help work each other’s events to ensure that the Society as a whole benefits.

MA: My biggest hope is that people who are making quality beverages will become comfortable enough with the concept of competition, formal or informal, to be able to be recognized for their contributions.

Countess Anna Leigh’s Great Beverage Showcase & Social will take place Friday evening at War Practice (2018).

An event page has been established on Facebook: 

Countess Anna Leigh’s Great Beverage Showcase & Social

Additional information will be available through Guild websites as details get set.


Prior to that feel free to direct questions here:

Countess Anna Leigh: aeannaleigh@gmail.com

Madoc Arundel: madoc_arundel@yahoo.com

Lady Maggie Rue: firewaterpro@gmail.com