Gentles traveling this weekend to Ice Dragon (or, really any other upcoming event in the near future) using the NYS Thruway, please note that every other rest area (i.e., food and bathrooms) is closed due to rebuilding. Gasoline *is* available at each area, however.
These are the current ones AFAIK:
Clarence (confirmed under construction)
Pembroke (confirmed under construction)
Clifton Springs (confirmed under construction)
Junius Ponds (confirmed under construction)
Also note, in case you haven’t traveled the Thruway in the past year-ish (or so), it is now cashless tolls.
So, if you do not have an EZ-Pass, make sure you watch your for the toll bill that will come in the mail. (From the EZ-Pass website – Tolls by Mail customers will pay 30% above the NY E-ZPass toll rate, in addition to a $2 administrative surcharge per billing statement.)
There is a phone number you can call to pay the bill — **826 from a cell phone — as well as a website http://www.tollsbymailny.com/ (or download their app from there) where you can search for your bill by license plate number.
By Elska á Fjárfelliof the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn in the Sylvan Kingdom of Æthelmearc
The Dutch language has a saying for which I have not found an English equivalent: hearing the bell toll, but not quite knowing where the clapper hangs. It kinda-sorta means “close, but no cigar.”
I was reminded of just this during our trip to the Netherlands this summer when we visited the craft brewery Jopen and I ordered one of their historic brews: Koyt Gruitbier.
A nice glass of gruited koyt at the Jopen Brewery
in Haarlem, the Netherlands
I had found out about this beer as part of my research into the early medieval Dutch beer called gruit and was quite curious to see, and taste, this commercial interpretation up close. And my first question upon seeing the label was: why is it called a koyt gruitbier? I asked a resident brewer and the answer was that they used the grain bill for koyt and added bog myrtle seeds (and other undisclosed herbs…) for gruit, to make a historic gruit beer.
To understand why this is historically problematic, and rather ironic to boot, let’s take a look at the beer style koyt, modernly known as kuit. The Jopen Brewery is located in the city of Haarlem in the province of North Holland – a city with a long brewing tradition going right back to the Middle Ages.
To distinguish themselves from other craft brewers Jopen Brewery delved into the archives of their city for inspiration, and the lucky bastards located several beer recipes to help start their brewing business. They chose to redact two recipes for commercial production, a 1407 recipe for koyt and a 1501 recipe for (generic) hopped beer. Naturally, the brewery was not amenable to sharing its sources, but luckily for us the city archive is open to anyone. The following are scans of the original 1407 koyt recipe and the 1501 hopped beer recipe.
Also those who want to brew coyt, they shall brew in the brew barrel no hopped beer within four days, that is to understand, that three or four days would be in between, having brewed with hopped beer. And as well one shall to each brew coyt brew with 12 eightparts wheat malt, eighteen eightparts barley malt and four and twenty eightparts oats malt and of each not less, on the fine of 3 pounds.
This information, combined with the following ordinance about water usage, gives a good idea of a recipe for medieval koyt.
About coyt, which one transports over sea, one shall not brew longer than 26 barrels, on the fine of 3 pounds, and about coyt which is sold domestically, and one shall not brew longer than 25 barrels coyt, and of each not more, or less, of one wants, also fined as regulated.
But wait, there is something missing… what about the hops? And that’s where part of the confusion originated: these ordinances are not recipes, they are grain bills. Hops, and in earlier times the additive gruit, was under its own taxation and was not mentioned in the ordinances, not even in the 1501 Haarlem ordinance for hopped beer (displayed below).
Also it is ordained as well, that a decent brewer or brewster who wants to brew hop beer, in each brew hop beer dumps ten eightparts wheat malt, and thirty-six eightparts oats malt, and thus so may each brewer or brewster exchange, if they want, for each sack wheat malt two sacks spelt malt or sacks of barley malt, and that until three sacks wheat malt and not more, and thus so shall one brew each hop beer brew fourteen stucken and a half long and not longer, that is to say fourteen stucks to deliver and to keep a half stuck for their drinkebeer (small beer), and that one shall not squeeze or push [press] nor brew on a loose bottom, and so who does different, there is the fine of 12 crowns and no work, until one shall have paid as above. The burghemasters and the court consented, that a decent brewer or brewster may brew hops as well on a loose bottom as differently, and that without a fine.
Was it because of mistaking grain bills for recipes that for decades there was a persistent misunderstanding between kuit (koyt) and gruit (gruyt) beer? Or maybe because the two names sound so alike it was assumed the beers must be alike, or even the same.
So how do we know if koyt really was made with hops, and not gruit, as Jopen Brewery assumes? The answer to that question is actually two-fold. Historic mentions of koyt beer outside of brewing ordinances indicate a clear connection between koyt beer and hops. For instance, the Duke of Burgundy licensed in the year 1455, in favor of the Goudsche (from Gouda) brewers, the hops-taxation on their brew: Goudsche Kuyt(1). Another brewer’s regulation of 1460 mentions that hops-taxation clerks can fine delinquent brewers of large beer and coyten (2). And the History of the city of Gouda from 1817 explains in the 1520 description of brewing “no herb except for hops” was allowed in their brew(3). But even more important in the gruit-versus-hops debate in connection with koyt are their respective time-lines.
In the early Middle Ages in large parts of the Low Countries, which consisted of modern Flanders, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany, the production of commercial beer was taxed through the sale of a product thought necessary to ferment a proper beer, called gruit. The sale of this grain-and-specific-herb-product made a number of families very rich, until a new method of brewing appeared on the horizon.
Not only was this beer, made with hops, able to travel and thus be traded – it did not fall under the gruit taxation! This new hopped beer from the Hansen city-states in not-quite-yet Germany, like the rotbier made in the city of Hamburg, scared the pants off the gruit masters, and import of this beer, and of hops, was quickly banned.
Of course, the Holland citizens – as the Netherlands did not quite yet exist either – recognizing a good thing, were not that easily persuaded. By 1321, the sale and production of hopped beer was officially permitted – and taxed (initially often under the umbrella of gruit). By 1327, Haarlem started the production of hopped beer, as did Dordrecht in 1322 and Delft in 1326, quickly out-competing the traditional gruit ale in the provinces of North and South Holland(4). For some reason the southern parts of the Low Countries persisted in making gruit ale over hopped beer for another 100 years or so – which could probably spawn a quick joke or two about those people from below the rivers, but let’s keep on track.
The brewing kettles, flanked by bar and stained glass windows…
Back to Jopen Koyt Gruitbier – a beautiful beer brewed in a beautiful church and touted as a real historic beer. Which it is, although more correctly: it is two historic beer styles rolled into one. This commercially successful beer illustrates the importance of knowing your history. As we’ve seen, koyt and gruit beer did both exist in the medieval Netherlands, and both at the same time, but not in the same regions. By the early 15th century, in the region of northern Holland, gruit ale had already disappeared – outcompeted by the very successful imports of Hamburg beer that were quickly locally produced, and exported, under the name of… wait for it… koyt.
Basically, Jopen Brewery attempted to make a historic gruit, and based it on the beer that had killed it.(5) That’s irony.
On the other hand, a brewery that’s named for a well-known historic beer type but states on its website that its name is inspired by a beer barrel size which historians are not familiar with, might need a sprinkle or two of extra salt when reading their folklore – oops, I meant history.
Although, I nearly reached my breaking point with the following description: “Jopen Koyt is brewed with gruit, a medieval blend of herbs in which sweet gale, picked according to ritual, was essential. Legend has it that, to avoid its hallucinogenic properties, sweet gale could only be picked at full moon by nude witches.” What the …?! I would love to see that reference, and with illustrations.
The moral of this story? Do not believe everything you read on the Internet. Just because someone is proficient in something does not mean they are proficient in everything. Remember, legend sells as Jopen’s gruitbier slogan shows: deliciously risky.
And the biggest irony is that Jopen Brewery could have had three fantastic historic recipes. The Jopen brewer might not be a historian, but he does know how to brew: that gruit ale sure tasted like more!
(2) Jacobs. Korte chronycke van vele gedenckweerdige geschiedenissen: soo in de principaele steden van het hertoghdom van Brabant als in de stadt en provincie van Mechelen, Volume 1. Loven, the Netherlands: Joannes Jacobs, 1747.
(5) Of course, it’s a bit more nuanced than that, but not by much. In 1374, the grain bill of commercial hopped beer made in Hamburg was updated and part of the oats was exchanged with barley. This Hamburg beer became a very successful export product. Both German products were emulated by Dutch cities: rotbier under the name of hoppenbier and Hamburg beer under the name of koyt, making koyt the daughter of the beer that out-competed gruit ale. Private communication with Freek Ruis, 9/11/2018.
By Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina (Chris Adler-France)
Have you ever dreamed of living and studying overseas? Of deep-diving into an aspect of the art or culture that burns a fire in your belly?
Two Æthelmearcians are about to make their dream come true.
Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona and Baron Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn, longtime residents of Thescorre, teachers, autocrats, and artisans who stepped down last year after a term co-serving as the Kingdom’s Ministers of Arts & Sciences, are about to study in Scandinavia for the next two years and took time out of their busy last-minute preparations to talk to The Gazette about their plans.
Q: Please tell us about what you will be doing for the next two years?
A: Starting in mid-July, we will be living in Iceland (and elsewhere for a bit) while we return to university. Fridrikr will be pursuing a Masters program in “Viking and Medieval Norse Studies,” while Orianna will be pursuing a one-year Certificate program in “Icelandic as a Second Language for Practical Purposes.”
Q: Why did you decide to do this?
A:(Fridrikr) I heard about this program while I was doing a four-day weekend workshop in Old Norse at Worcester Polytech about three years ago. It sounded like a great program to extend my personal work in Old Norse poetry. We looked into it and set ourselves the goal of doing this after we had both retired. It has become our Great Adventure.
(Orianna) When he started talking about it, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and definitely something to do while we had the ability to do it. Iceland is a very interesting country and I think having the opportunity to live there and learn more is pretty neat.
However, I told him there were two conditions:
It had to wait until I retired (which happened late last year), and
It had to be for only two years.
Fridrikr mentioned the Icelandic language class as an option for me to increase my ability to be accepted to live in Iceland with him, plus since we will be there it makes sense to learn the language.
Q: Please explain your degree programs, what kind of classes you’ll be doing, and what you hope the end result will be?
A:(Fridrikr) My program is an intensive 120-credit-hour program taken over two years. It culminates in a Master of Arts degree. The first year is spent in Reykjavik at the University of Iceland, taking basic graduate level courses and electives. I’m not sure yet, but I’m reasonably certain that there will be at least one semester-long project the first year, second term.
The second year is devoted to research, seminars, and thesis writing. First semester of the second year will be “study abroad” in either Oslo, Copenhagen, or Aarhus, Denmark. The location is decided based on my research interests. I believe that I’ll end up in Copenhagen, as I want to work in saga studies and the Arnamagnaen Institute’s sister collection is there. Oslo is the second choice (history). Aarhus is more geared toward archaeological studies. The end result will be an MA from the University of Iceland.
(Orianna) My program is a one-year certificate that covers all of the usual classes you need to take to learn a language. I am a little nervous about it since Icelandic is a difficult language and the last time I took classes in another language was in high school. But hopefully immersing myself in the language in the country of origin will help.
Q: Tell us about Reykjavik?
A: We’ve already been there a couple of times on vacation. It’s a smallish city (125,000 people) and the central area, where we’re living, can be walked across in about 20 minutes. The public transportation system is all bus and is excellent. We’ll be living near the harbor, in a fully furnished apartment that is about 700 square feet. Small, cozy, and excellent.
Q: How long did it take to prepare for this and what steps did you need to do?
A: A lifetime? Or, more realistically, about two years of talking about it and about a year of really doing it.
The three big steps were:
getting accepted at the university;
arranging housing and bureaucratic stuff (visas – still in process, medical insurance, etc.);
making sure our house here is cared for.
These days, about a month out, we’re getting packing lists done, packing boxes to ship over, getting clothes and other necessities together. It’s starting to get hectic now.
Q: What was the most challenging step? What was easiest? What surprised you?
A:(Fridrikr) For me, the most challenging step has been the application to the university. Creating my Curriculum Vitae (an academic version of a résumé), gathering copies of diplomas, transcripts, and writing a “statement of intent” detailing why you are applying, why you are a good fit for the program, what you will do with your career after you graduate, and so on.
The easiest step was medical insurance (fill out a very general form and give them money and you have insurance for six months. After that, you’re on the public insurance system).
A surprise (though it shouldn’t be) is the slowness of the Visa/Residency Permit system. We applied in May (passport, photos, criminal background check, “proof” of ability to support yourself) and have heard virtually nothing since. We’re hoping to hear before we leave, but probably won’t.
(Orianna) I think for me it is the practical — where will we live, what about money, shopping, getting around the city, health insurance, medications. I suspect there are a few things we haven’t yet thought of but if we got this far with the process, we can figure out the rest as needed.
Q: How did you find a place to live? What resources helped you accomplish this?
A: We were lucky. Finding housing is the hardest part of living in Reykjavik. Many students end up “camping out” for a few weeks after they arrive. I posted on Facebook, describing us and our need (retired couple, students, looking for a furnished apartment). A fellow saw my post, put us in touch with his cousin who lives in New Hampshire and has a furnished apartment in Iceland. He was looking for folks to occupy it for a year. We got in touch and, voila!, we have an apartment. Really, it was all by networking!
Q: What will happen to your home and pets here in the US while you are living in Iceland?
A: Our daughter, Brigid; her husband, Justin; their two cats; and their baby (expected in September) will live in our house while we’re gone. Our cats will learn to deal, we hope.
It is a good deal for them since they will only be covering the general utilities while we will cover the homeowner’s insurance and taxes. Plus, we are downsizing a car since there is no reason to have two cars sitting idle in the garage while we are gone.
We do plan to be back in the United States off and on during the next two years. Orianna will be back in September for the grandbaby birth, plus we hope to return home for Christmas. There will likely a short trip next summer while we plan the transition from Iceland to either Denmark or Norway.
Q: Do you have any plans to attending any local SCA events or seeing any specific tourist attractions while you are there, and if so, what are they?
A: We’d like to go back to some favorite places while we’re there, especially Reykholt (the home of Snorri Sturluson), and see parts of the island we haven’t been to yet. While we’re in Europe, I’m certain we’ll do a lot of touring about. The local group in Iceland is very small, and we’re hoping to get to know them a bit. The amount of free time we’ll have is uncertain, but it will be filled with adventure!
It would be fun to attend a Drachenwald event — especially the ones they hold in real castles! Their Majesties Sven and Siobhan have offered to provide any advice or help we might need in connecting with the folks in Drachenwald.
Plus, there are some places in Scandinavia and The Netherlands that we would like to visit given our proximity while we are there.
Q: Do you expect to use these degrees for anything specific when you return to the US, or are you pursuing them simply as part of lifelong learning?
A:(Fridrikr) If I’m good enough, have the health and treasure left, and can find a fit, I’d like to get a Ph.D. after I finish, maybe at Cornell or Binghamton. If not, I plan to continue my personal studies for as long as I can.
(Orianna) I am not sure what I will do with my language classes, but maybe it will be useful in clothing or general historical research. Who knows?
Q: What advice would you give to a SCAdian who wants to study overseas for a year or more?
A: Have a plan, stick with it, be ready for some hefty sticker shock, but go for it! Whether you succeed or not, you’ll get to know wonderful people and you’ll find doors opening up for you that you could never have imagined.
You can follow their ongoing journey at their blog here.