Wolfgang’s Crusader Ale and Other Anachronistic Brews

In memory of THL Wolfgang Starcke - a brewer, a teacher, a barkeep - the Aethelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers is hoping to assemble a SCAdian brewing book. Of you we ask to please share with us your recipes – help us remember Wolfgang as we hope he would appreciate.

The general idea is to collect recipes and anecdotes (preferably anecdotes to go with the recipes) from all the brewers and others that Wolfgang and his brews have influenced over the years. We're hoping for a mix from the lowliest Pennsic utility brew to the loftiest of documented Ice Dragon entries. Show us your recipes, show us your memories, show us your photos, sketches and illustrations. Share what you know he liked, or not, or what you think he might appreciate. Help make Wolfgang an even more lasting presence in our community, and an inspiration for those who come after – now, as well as in life.

Yours in Service,
Elska (Project Coordinator), Maggie Rue (Editor) and Madoc Arundel (Website)

Submit your entry using this form. For multiple entries, please submit multiple times. Photographer and Model Release Forms along with any photos, images, or other ancillary information can be sent by email to bvmguild.points AT gmail DOT com.

House Rules:

  • Brew recipes should be able to be reproduced with standard equipment

  • Multiple entries are very welcome

  • Preference for publication goes to personally developed and/or before 1650 C.E. entries

  • By entering, you agree your entry and/or image may be published. Publication is not guaranteed, and some level of editing of text or image is to be expected

  • If duplicate recipes or stories are received, preference will be given to the first submission, and subsequent submitters will be given the opportunity to provide an alternative

  • Upon selection, SCA approved release form(s) is/are required for publication

  • Please keep your memories in good cheer… Thank you!


Madoc's Mistake by THL Madoc Arundel

Shire of Hunters Home

When I first tried making cyser (apple mead), I was adamant about using orchard cider as my base. I was using a demijohn (a 15-gallon carboy) and a 60-pound pail of honey. I purchased 8 gallons of cider from a local orchard, and went to work. It was about 8 o'clock at night when I mixed the ingredients together directly in the carboy. When I realized I was about 1.5 gallons short and the orchard was closed for the night, I ran to Walmart. Just inside the door was a huge display of apple cider with the label "100% PURE" on the sign. I grabbed two gallons and went back to the house. I dumped most of the new cider into the demijohn and added two packets of wine yeast. The next morning there was no activity in the air lock... so I added two more packets and went to work. When I got home, there was still no activity, so I grabbed two more yeast packets and made up a starter. The starter was going pretty well when I added it to the demijohn and went to bed. The next morning, I saw a couple bubbles in the air lock; but when I got home from work, that air lock was flat. I made a bigger starter and repeated the process. The next day produced the same result. This is when I went and pulled the empty gallon jug from the trash and read the label. Under the big red letters that said "100% PURE", there was near-microscopic print that read, "potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate added to preserve freshness." So, I called my friend who had been brewing much longer than I and asked what to do. He said it could still be salvaged. He recommended pouring the must back into buckets, and aerating it as furiously as I could with the stir stick. Get in more oxygen and drive out the preservatives. Then put it back in the carboy with a fresh yeast starter... at least a pint in size. I tried this, and actually got fermentation to run for more than a single day. When it stopped, I repeated the process... for about six weeks I was beating the must and restarting the ferment every few days. I was adding so much extra sugar and fluid with the yeast starters that I actually had an overflow 3-gallon carboy next to the demijohn. After six weeks, I just let the demijohn sit. Well... after about a year, my wife asked me when she was getting her dining room table back. I decided that I would test the cyser to see if there was any alcohol at all. If there was not, I would spike it with vodka and bottle it. If there was, I would just bottle it. I couldn't use the starting gravity because I had added so much extra sugar with the yeast starters, so I was using the surface tension method and a spectrometer that I had borrowed. Both systems were giving me readings between 16% and 18%, which had to be false. There just wasn't that much fermentation taking place to result in that high an alcohol content. So I checked it the old fashioned way... I drank a 12-ounce glass... and got wasted. So, I bottled it and took it to Pennsic. Ironically, I had been making meads to my preference for a couple years. People had never been too impressed. When they tasted this mead - which to me was the consistency of pancake syrup - the overwhelming response was, "This is the best stuff you ever made. You'll have to make more." I spent the next 6 years attempting to emulate that flavor and body in a manner that did NOT involved beating the liquid every few days. In the end, the best attempt at recreating the mistake won the 2005 Silver Medal for fruit mead in the American Homebrewers Association national home brewing competition. That is the recipe I am presenting here.


  • 5 gallons wildflower honey
  • 9 gallons apple juice or filtered apple cider
  • 3 four-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tbsp yeast energizer
  • 2 Tbsp yeast nutrient
  • 2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 3 packets Lalvin D-47 wine yeast

Heat the honey just enough to liquefy it, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Warm the apple juice to no more than 120 degrees to help infuse the honey in the demijohn. Stir the nutrient, energizer, and pectic enzyme into either the juice or the honey until it dissolves. Pour both liquids into the demijohn, holding back one gallon of the apple juice (for topping off later.) Make a yeast starter with a tablespoon of sugar, a pint of warm water, and the yeast. Allow the starter to work until there is a discernible layer of yeast covering the bottom, but not so long that the foam layer on top subsides (about 12-18 hours). Pitch the yeast into the demijohn and set the airlock. Primary fermentation will run about a month. Once the foam of primary subsides, begin using the last gallon of apple juice to top up the demijohn. You will likely not be able to fit the entire gallon in. Hang on to the remainder. After three months, siphon the cyser into three 5-gallon carboys, adding a cinnamon stick to each carboy. Let it sit for three more months. Rack every four to six weeks for the next six months until no more sediment settles out. Then bottle. Alcohol content will be between 16% and 18%. I generally allow mine to sit at least another 6 months in the bottle before serving.

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This page last updated 1 July 2020 by Madoc Arundel