hist-brewing: "An Arab Mead"

Bruce R. Gordon obsidian at raex.com
Mon Oct 22 17:59:06 PDT 2001

	Replies follow comments...

Owen Hutchins wrote:

> I'm curious about a couple of the conclusions you made. First, the part
> about the "low fire"; I doubt that any yeast could survive the process, as
> most strains die at around 110-115 F, far lower than a "low fire" would
> produce. Since you state that it is cooked, I presume that it would at least
> be lightly simmering, which would have the benefit of pastuerizing the must,
> which is a good thing. The yeast would have to come from somewhere else,
> though.

	Admittedly, an arguable point. As I say in the article, it isn't a 
certain thing, and if you want me to admit further that I emphasize the 
possibility of yeast survival for the sake of the idea, I cam't 
precisely deny that, though I don't think I'm being intellectually 
dishonest or mendacious about it. My interpretation of "low fire" is 
something less than a steady simmer -- I've often used my stove at very 
low settings for a long but very mild "cooking". It's an interpretation, 
and if you think of "low fire" as a medium simmer, you are certainly 
within reason. I also base my conclusion on the notion that only a few 
yeasties need to survive, and stressing a large population of anything 
will still see a few slip through, usually. Again, an interpretation. 
But even in a worst-case scenario, prepping the concoction near the glop 
from five gallons of grape pulp is likely to leave airbourne yeast in 
the room, so I think that even then, I describe a possible outcome.

> The other is based on my rather limited understanding of the Qur'an. As you
> state, this recipe comes from a medicinal text, and therefore it was
> intended to be drunk for medicinal purposes. The Qur'an bans alcohol made
> from grapes and grains, but not honey. This recipe, however, includes
> grapes, and would therefore be banned for any but medicinal uses.

	Well, not exactly. As I state in the article, the Qu'ran only 
specifically mentions "wine" three times, and never does it specify 
grapes or grain. In fact, I haven't been able to find the words "grape" 
or "barley" (or other grains) in the Qu'ran in ANY context yet. But your 
comment demonstrates what I was attempting to show -- that by defining a 
beverage as "medicine", you place it in a different set of rules than 
those regulating "recreational beverage".

> Finally, to pick a nit, you mention vinager, and had assumed that it had
> been derived from non-alcoholic sources, Can't happen; vinager, specifically
> acetic acid, is biologically oxidized methly alcohol, and can only be formed
> from methyl alcohol.

	I'm willing to believe you: my knowledge of the manufacture of vinegar is 
far less extensive than my understanding of other things. But I don't 
think it nullifies the point I was making in that section, even so.
	Incidentally, for those of you who don't get the TI, or who aren't in the 
SCA, the article in question is on the web, at 
At the bottom of the page, the link to "Five Arabic Elixers" gives the 
recipe again (the 3rd, labeled "108") with the original measurements.

Bruce R. Gordon

Ex Tenebra, Lux


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