Hammer’s lifted! Name’s Daervin Dreadlode, Master Distiller of Clan Dreadlode, Son of Tuvand, Grandson of Baerdil, Great-Grandson of Daervin, who was Chief Distiller to the Grand Dwarven Thane himself! And I’m at your service. My apologies for cutting my lineage titles short – I’ve learned most non-dwarves lose focus somewhere around the third paternal ancestor, not to mention the sixteenth. They usually fall right asleep before I even begin the maternal side.
Anyway, I understand you’ve an interest in the techniques of dwarven ale-brewing. Well, forget about that – dwarves don’t do anything special to their ales. In fact, it’s a small part of our culture. Hah! That look on your face is a sight! It’s true, though – we don’t have much interest in ales. Sure, we brew and drink a little. Of course, it’s the finest you’ve ever had, too – a dwarf brewmaster is a dwarf, after all, and we put our heart into all of our endeavors. But, think about it. How do you make an ale? Barley and hops, right? Where do they grow? On the surface, in the soil. Dwarves don’t care much for the surface, tilling the soil in the sun. No, sir – let the elves have that! We trade them for the raw ingredients to make our ales.
No, no – we use what we grow for ourselves to make our prize spirits. So, what’s that, you ask? Mushrooms! That’s right – mushrooms! What better to grow in these grand lightless realms of ours? Sure, we can grow lichens and other fungi, and they make for some great spirits too. But the noble mushroom… that’s what’s best.
We call it Sudd Madarch – and it’s typically a clear, grey-brown liquid, although colors range from red to brown to black, and sometimes it’ll be cloudy as well. The few humans who’ve had it compare it to your whiskey, but with a stronger, muskier, more pronounced flavor. Also, one sip seems to knock your kind over. Heh, I guess there’s something about our dwarven heartiness that makes us better suited to drinking.
Anyway, we make sudd madarch by making a mash of the mushroom caps. After a week or so, we take the mash out and put it next to the forges to dry out a little. It also picks up a great smoky flavor while it’s there. From there, we take it back to the vats, which are usually carved right into the living rock. Mix a little flavoring, usually salt, or copper, or some other mined minerals. And, no, I’m not telling you anything more than that – I am Master Distiller after all, and I keep my secrets.
Anyway, add hot water and let it ferment for some time, a few months or longer, depending on what you like. Once it tastes just right, and I’m the one who determines that, you get it to the stills. From there, it’s off to the casks, where it ages for anywhere from two decades to two centuries.
What’s that? You’ve never heard of sudd madarch? Well, of course you haven’t! Distilling it is the finest art, producing the finest spirit a dwarf can drink! Naturally, we’re gonna keep it to ourselves. We’ll let you surface folk have the ale.