What? Who’s there? Come closer to the fire so Nachor can see you! Oh, you’re the visitors Demnos told me about. You shouldn’t sneak up on a minotaur like that – you’ll get your head crushed like a egg. Now, just wait a moment for me to put my maul back over here.
So, Demnos wants me to put you up for a night, eh? Very well. I guess, as a host, I should pour you some mendrök, eh? Here, hold this drinking horn. I’ll fetch a bottle from my tent.
Me? Well, like I said, my name is Nachor. I tend the herds of yaks that my clan owns. It ain’t glory like a battlefield, but it gives me lots of time to think.
Here, have some mendrök. Heh – what’s the matter? Is it the smell, or the way it looks? Smells like sour milk, eh? And looks like it, too, don’t it? Well, guess what – that’s kinda what it is.
How do I make it? Well, it’s not just me, y’see? It’s simple enough that all us minotaurs make it. See, up here in the mountains, we don’t get much time to build and take care of none of them fancy stills or breweries the soft peoples like you do, oh no. Most of our time is spent hunting or raiding for food and other supplies. So, like everything we do, we make it quick.
Now, to make mendrök, you start with yak’s milk. Yeah, that’s right – yak’s milk. Sometimes we use milk from mares or mountain goats, too, but I mostly like yak. It sorta makes sense of what I do all day, too.
Now, the shaman blesses the yak herd about once every week, right at sunrise. He says it infuses the herd with the spirits of the mountain. The spirits, in their ways and wisdom, make the herd produce superior wool, meat, fat and milk. That last thing is what we’re interested in.
Now, you get the milk, fresh, you see, and put about five gallons in a pot. Then, you take a mugful of your last batch of mendrök and you pour it into the fresh milk. That’s the key, you see? That one mug makes the rest of the milk begin to ferment. Without it, you just get sour milk. Why? I dunno – the shaman says it has to do with the spirits in the mendrök having to grow. No spirits, no mendrök, get it?
So you let it sit in the pot for the next three days. You gotta stir it up two or three times a day so the curds don’t settle and grow too much. After that, I like to add about a gallon of honey. Some other taurids like to use sugar they get from the south, but most of us use the honey. Anyway, you stir it up, then pour it into the skins.
Now, here’s the part where it gets fun. We take these skins and hang ’em outside on our tents. Now, you do that, and everyone knows what’s in ’em. So, it’s tradition, in just about every clan around here, that when you see one of them skins hanging on a tent, you punch it. Not too hard, you see – you don’t want to waste it. Punching the bag, like hitting a wasp nest, makes the spirits angry and stirs them up. Doing that makes the mendrök ferment faster. After about two weeks, it’s ready. Take it down, strain out the curds, and store it in skins, bottles or whatever you got.
Go on, taste it. Yeah, sweet, sour and thin like water, right? That’s a good batch I gave you, there. Now, you can drink a quart of that, and not feel too foggy from it. But we don’t drink it straight too often. Most times, we add it to whiskey, ale or barley wine that we get from down the mountain. My favorite way, though, is with the blood of a particularly worthy foe.
I am a minotaur, after all.