Brewing for Kids- A recap from Youth RUM 2015

This past weekend I taught one of the best classes I have ever taught in the SCA.
Down at the first Youth RUM I taught half a dozen kids how to brew beer and all about medieval drinks.

We covered:

  • Why they didn’t drink much water in the Middle Ages (and how the drinking water got polluted)
  • What “small beers” were, why they drank them, and why the 1% alcohol wouldn’t hurt them compared to common day beers their parents drank
  • How small beers were made
  • What root beer is made from
  • Why Sarsaparilla was exported from the new world to Europe in the 16th century
  • What yeast is and how it works.
  • What the bubbles are in soda and how much sugar really are in sodas (and why we should not drink them constantly)
  • How yeast farts out CO2 and pees out alcohol

imageIt was amazing to hear them recite back facts about medieval drinking and yeast. I especially loved the facebook posts from parents saying how their kids would talk about drinking beer and telling them all about yeast.
By donating 1 hour of my time for a class and under $40 in supplies I helped encourage the appreciation of a medieval art in the youth of our society… That was the most rewarding hour I have spent.
When was the last time you did something to help, inspire or educate the youth of our society to ensure the SCA will last till the next generation?

Teaching in the SCA 2: Deciding on the format

Let’s do a recap real quick. You should be able to answer the following questions-

  • What event are you planning at teaching at?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What are you known for?
  • Do you want to teach a beginning class or a more encompassing in depth class?

For the remainder of this tutorial, let’s assume you have never taught a class before, and you would like to teach it at Pennsic.

The next thing you are going to want to figure out is the format of your class. It is important to figure out the format pretty early on as it will help you figure out the structure of your class as well as the title/description, class Size, scope of class, material fees, handouts & references needed.

There are many different types of formats/styles that you can use to teach your class, and you will ultimately figure out what is right for you. I personally think I do better teaching hands on classes over history lectures, yet I know others who make history fascinating.

I like to classify SCA class formats into the following divisions:

  1. Hands-On Classes- These are classes where you actually get to try your hand at the doing the activity. This could be a martial class where you practice the moves, or a silk banner class where you get to try your hand at silk painting. Hands on classes work great in both a traditional class format (set time, everyone starts together) or in an open scheduling format ( where people can come or go when they feel like it).  For handouts I usually recommend giving them to the student AFTER the class and make sure to include supply lists and resources so they can get started at home.
  2. Make & Take Classes- Make and take classes are similar to the hands-on classes as the student gets to try there hand at the subject. The difference is that the student works on their own item which they get to take home with them ( either completed or to complete at home). Unless you have “helpers” or teacher assistants, I recommend keeping the Make & Take classes small. Between 4-10 students depending on the subject.
  3. Lectures- Lecture classes are usually the hardest type of classes to teach in the SCA. They also normally have some of the best information and documentation. There are 2 thing that makes it so hard to teach lecture structured classes. First, attendance is normally lower for lecture classes ( unless you advertise) as people have a tendency to not “sit” in “class” on their weekends. Secondly, it is hard to keep the source material engaging and keeping the students attention (there is nothing worse than teaching a class and having a student nod off). However, there are teachers who  teach lecture style classes really well. Michael of Safita from Calontir probably does the best SCA lecture style classes in the Known World. His tent is almost always standing room only. If your interested in teaching a lecture style class- check out one of his classes. There are other ways to make a lecture style class interesting as well ( which we will cover in the next session) such as doing it in your persona’s voice or using props.
  4. Q&A-  A Q&A class is  exactly what it sounds like. A chance for students to ask questions and the teacher to answer it. Usually this class needs the least amount of prepwork, handouts ( if any), ext. If you have a good teacher with a mass amount of knowledge in the subject, AND a good number of students, this can be a very knowledge packed class. If teachers plan to do this format, than I recommend having some “previously asked questions” with answers ready to go incase the class is slow.
  5. Panels- Panels usually consist of 2+ teachers/speakers who have experience in the subject. A combination of mini lecture for each, and a Q&A session. When I organize panels for RUM I usually like to grab people with different successful methods to share a wide arrangement of viewpoints.
  6. Show & Tell- Normally part lecture, part show & tell, part touchy feely. These types of classes usually are lecture classes that allow the students get a close up experience of the process or end product but without the experience of actually making the item like in the Hands-On class. This is the way I normally teach my brewing classes. I give the history of the item/brew but also pass around samples for the students to taste. Show & tell works great when you have finished items that you have made that you can share while you explain your experience of the construction process.

Take your class subject, and where you are teaching it, and now figure out what format you want to do it in.


I am teaching non-alcoholic brewing at It Takes My Child To Raise A Village. As the class is aimed at teenagers, I want to keep their interest, so we are going to do it as a Hands On Class where we make root beer together as a group.  I’m also going to throw in a little bit of show & tell and have some samples of other non-alcoholic period drinks.

Gulf Wars Class Schedule

Below are the classes I will be teaching at Gulf Wars:
As always, please check the site booklet and class boards for the most up-to-date information

Beginning Shoemaking: Eastern Felt Shoe Making LECTURE ONLY

    Introduction to Middle Eastern Shoes: Come learn what shoes your Middle Eastern Persona would wear. First part of the class will cover documentation and extant examples (mostly Turkish and Egyptian), as well as social and religious customs. Second part of the class, participants can learn how to pattern their own Middle Eastern Shoes with instructions on how to make them out of felt or leather. Class fee $5 covers handouts and materials to pattern shoes.

  • Location: Al-Mahala Middle Eastern Area
  • Time: Friday 1:00PM
  • Length: 2 Hours
  • Class Fee: $5
  • Class Limit: 25
  • Under 14 with a parent only.

Beginning Shoemaking: Eastern Felt Shoe Making. HANDS ON

    A hands-on workshop to make a pair of wool felt shoes or boots worn in both the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Techniques taught in class can then be used for most other shoes or boots worn throughout the SCA time period. Should expect to work on shoes on own time to finish by end of war.

  • Location: Textile 1
  • Time: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 10am – 11am
    1. Monday Class 1: General Shoes Pattern Making
    2. Tuesday Class 2: Cutting, Sewing, and Decorations
    3. WEDS-OFF
    4. Thursday Class 3: Sewing (part 2)
    5. Friday Class 4: Finishing
  • Class Fee: $30 for boots & $20 for shoes. Cost covers all materials (felt, soles, needles, thread, handout)
  • Class Limit: 14
  • Ages 12 and up (12-17 with parent)

Funny little cordial

    A look into the properties of humors in brewing: Medieval food and drinks were chosen and arranged based on their “humors”, a classification system of hot to cold and moist to dry that was thought to influences their temperament and health. Class will cover the classification of typical medieval beverages such as ales, beers, wines and mead as well as how to create a personalized cordial based on a desired humor. Over 21 Only. $5 for handout and samples

  • 1 hour
  • Over 21.
  • $5 for handout and samples

History of Drinking: common medieval drinks

    A look at the history of drinks, especially those in the between 3rd-16th centuries and how they affected society and culture. Class will include samples (and recipes) of the most common drinks found in the Middle Ages ( and in the SCA). No instruction on brewing provided. Over 21 Only. $5 for handout and samples

  • 1 and 1/2 hours
  • $5 for handout and samples
  • Ages 21 and up