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Mendrök – A Minotaur Potable

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.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 8 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Sidebar: Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor

In my first Racial Drink article, Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor, I described what I thought a typical dwarven-made liquor might be like.  I wanted to add a few things here.

I know most fantasy RPGs and fiction depict dwarves as master brewers (and consumers) of ale.  At face value, that’s not a problem.  However, the more I thought about it, the more dissatisfied I became with it. Water can be found underground.  Yeast, being a fungus, can live and reproduce underground.  However, the other major ingredients in ale – barley and hops – require sunlight to grow.  But where do dwarves live?  Underground – in mines and caves, which are pretty much sunless.  So, other than by trade or plunder, dwarves have no sustainable means to produce the ingredients to make ale.  Therefore, I can’t see ale being a core staple of their culture.

However, I can’t imagine a dwarven culture without alcohol of some kind.  Indeed, every real-world human culture has alcohol that is derived from its locally-available resources.  (Yes, I know – there are exceptions.)  So, what do dwarves grow in their underground environment?  My first thought, of course: mushrooms.

That was the basis for the article.

What would a mushroom liquor look like?  Smell like?  Taste like?  I immediately thought of whisky, but with a fungal twist, of course.

What would a subterranean race add for flavor?  My answer: minerals such as copper, or salt, or something else that would be mined.  Also, in the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons at least, dwarves have a resistance to poison – therefore, any dwarven drink would have to have a high alcohol content, as well as a strong, almost overwhelming flavor.

I could expand on the kinds of alcohol dwarves could make, but I think each kind would easily require an additional article on its own.  Also, I’d like to explore the dwarven twist on ales as well.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 6 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Eladrin Herb Wine

Greetings. I was informed of your visit.  Enter, won’t you?  You may call me Ealaestra.  That is not how eladrin pronounce it, but I find that your kind have difficulty speaking our language correctly.  At any rate, I am vintner for my family.  And you have an interest in learning something of my product, yes?

I will direct your attention to this bottle of llefuusouinum.  Don’t bother with the pronunciation, you may simply call it herb wine.  I know how people like you don’t like to wait, so allow me to uncork it anon.  There, can you smell that?  Perhaps not – I believe your senses are not as sharp as mine.  But trust me when I say that the bouquet of the llefuusouinum is immediately apparent.  Indulge me, please, as I pour some into the glasses before us.  There, now you smell it, yes?  Mild, you say it is?  Very well, but I do say that the perceptive clearly can detect the dandelion, rosemary and nolly-oak quite easily, and I find the rose petal and aster fruit undertone quite intriguing.  Please, I insist you pick up, swirl, and deeply breathe it in.  Ahhh.

I see your surprise, yes?  Did you not expect the slight violet glow?  That, dear visitor, is due to the moonleaf, an herb grown in what you call the Feywild, and what I call home.  Now, moonleaf will not glow on its own – oh no.  During fermentation, I supplement the process with arcane rituals of my own design.  It is common among eladrin vintners to use arcane magics in their winemaking – after all, we are eladrin.  A side effect of my rituals is the glow you see now.

And now, my favorite part.  Bring the glass to your lips, dear visitor, breathe in the bouquet once again, and taste!  No, no, let it stay in your mouth to allow all the flavours to dance upon your tongue.  Dandelion, rosemary, rose petal… do you taste them?  How about the slight sage, and even hint of vanilla?  Ahh, yes – all there.  You do not, no?  Well, I suppose it is no surprise to me!  Even the most experienced sommelier of your kind is hard pressed to pick up on all the flavours.  Your tongues are simply not sensitive enough, I am afraid.  Nevertheless, the flavours are there, I assure you.

Now, I bottled this particular vintage two-hundred sixteen years ago.  Oh, you are surprised, yes?  You forget eladrin effectively are immortal compared to yourself, yes?  Of course you do.  But this breadth of life gives me great patience with my art, as well as perspective insofar as my methods – what works well, and what does not, and how to produce the finest llefuusouinum.  Would that you had half my perspective, yes?

Alas, you have emptied your glass so soon!  Well, then, I am certain you wish to continue about your business, yes?  I will summon the escort for you.  Oh, do not worry for me or my llefuusouinum here – we will be well enough once we return to our business.  But where are my manners?  I gift you this – a one-hundred three year vintage.  No, it is quite young, but as you noticed, the flavours are quite too subtle for your tongue anyway.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 2 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor

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.

A bottle of Sudd Madarch

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.

Button mushrooms, prior to harvesting

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.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 26 August 2011 in Gaming

 

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