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Pennsic 47 all-grain class by Alain ap Daffyd, from the Canton of Salesberie Glen, Barony of Sacred Stone, Kingdom of Atlantia (current Royal Brewer) and Aethelmearcian by association with Madoc Arundel.

Written by Alain, photography by Elska á Fjárfelli.


Brewing area with plenty of shady seating for the brewing enthusiasts who came and visited throughout the day. The class was scheduled for four hours. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

The recipe I used in the class is redacted from The English Housewife by Gervase Markham. “The best March beer” calls for peas and the brewing of three beers, or three sparges of wort from the grain. In the interest of time, I combined the first two sparges for a boil yielding slightly more than ten gallons. The peas were omitted.

16# Briess pilsner malt
2# wheat malt
2# oat malt
3 oz. East Kent Golding

The pilsner grain is a barley malt, barely lighter than a “standard” two-row, and happened to be what was in my bin for base malt. I used East Kent Golding, as it is a fine English hop, and I was low on Fuggle. Every medieval recipe I’ve read calls for barley malt, oat malt, and/or wheat malt (in some combination) and hops—I have not seen anything more specific than those terms. From some of the discussions of malt (more/less smoky, etc.), I suspect there was variation from malthouse to malthouse, and between any two maltings as well, but I have yet to see evidence of anyone using different barley malts in any proportion in a single grain bill. Thus, I always weigh my malt from a single bag for any one boil.

Copper kettle on propane burner: This Pennsic I chose to use a propane burner for heat instead of a wood fire. The smoky quality added to the wood-fire brew was lovely, but the smoky quality it added to my respiratory system was not. Every period illustration I have seen has the copper on a stone/masonry stand, where wood is added through the front and smoke is carried away in a chimney. I’m thinking of building something similar and trying wood again. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

The session begins with adding eight gallons (30 liters) of water to the copper and setting it to heat. All of the grains were combined in a bucket earlier – once the water was on to heat, they were cracked, and put in the tun. The water is raised to approximately 170 degrees Fahrenheit (~77 degrees Celsius), then added to the cracked grain in the tun, using the “pot-on-a-stick.” After all the water is transferred, a paddle is used to stir the mash, making sure all the grain is wetted and with no clumps.

Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

After stirring, the mash is covered to prevent heat loss. Eight more gallons (30 liters) of water are measured and added to the copper. Once the mash rests for thirty minutes, it is stirred. On this occasion, we used a thermometer to check the mash temperature, and found it to be just over 150°F (66°C). The copper is now heated, bringing the water to mash temp (150°F/66°C). At the end of another thirty-minute rest, the wort is extracted from the grain by dipping it from the tun and straining it through a wicker basket, allowing it to collect in a bucket. Grain is placed in another bucket once the basket becomes full. After all the wort is extracted (~5 gallons/19 liters, more than expected), the grain is returned to the tun, and the additional water from the copper (8 gallons/30 liters) is added.

Separating the spent grains from the mash – the large wood tub hides a fiberglass insulated plastic tub to help keep the mash at temperature. The large stirring spoon and pot-on-a-stick are period tools; the wicker basket is a period tool; the funnel shelf is of home design. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

This is where we depart from Markham’s description, as rather than setting the first wort to boil we collected the wort from the second session and added it to the first, doing a single boil rather than two separate boils. We abandoned the third boil entirely, although a taste of the remaining grain did indicate sugar remaining.

Ludwig taste-testing the spent grains for residual sugars. There was enough left for a third mash/sparge, or a small beer. The strained wort tasted very sweet, both from the first sparge and the second (remember, it is still going to be boiled). Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

The second run gathered just short of 8 gallons/30 liters (as expected), resulting in just short of 13 gallons/49 liters to boil. As my copper only holds 12 gallons/45 liters, we elected to do a longer boil, adding additional wort as it progressed, until all wort had been reduced to approximately 10.5 gallons/40 liters.

Heating up the wort from the first sparge. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

Adding the wort from the second sparge. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

The hops were measured and put into a small bag, and added to the wort prior to starting the boil.

Starting gravity is 1.056. The wort was pitched with Mangrove Jack’s M42 yeast, with an expected final gravity of 1.010–1.020, or around 5–6% ABV. This should be a dry, malty beer, and I hope to be serving it at War of the Wings.

Surveying the two fermenting buckets with wort cooling off enough to pitch the yeast. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

And everyone went home with a nice glass of “something.” Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

Recipe of Spent Grain Cookies as made by Alysoun (Alison Leister Steele) and served throughout the brewing class:

*Slightly* less-wasted Spent Grain Cookies

• 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
• 1.5 cups spent grain
• 0.5 cup brown sugar
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 1 egg
• 7 tbsp. butter, melted
• 1/4 cup raisins
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp. baking soda


Absalon (Christian Leister Steele) hawking the baking wares of his wife. Photo by Elska á Fjárfelli

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine whole wheat flour, spent grains, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon & egg in a large mixing bowl.
3. Once mixed, stir in melted butter and honey.
4. Fold in raisins.
5. Spoon onto a greased baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350 for 10–12 minutes, or until edges start to brown.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool. The cookie are even better the next day (they travel well!).

Find the recipe here.