Food is a fairly straightforward affair, in Wodenberg. It's simple, fresh and hearty. And seasonal, of course. From late summer, when the vegetables ripen, through the last apples and oat sheaves of autumn, tables are just as bountiful as you'd hope they could be. The goodfolk aren't afraid to pack on a few pounds to get them through the winter. Dried, pickled and smoked fare carry them through five months of cold, and hopefully they have enough put by. Come spring, those are supplemented with early greens and fresh-killed game.
But let's talk about beverages.
Beer is the alcohol of choice in Wodenberg. I happen to be quite fond of beer, myself. This is entirely coincidental, of course.
The basics: beer is made by extracting starches and sugar from partially germinated, then dried grains (“malted”), then adding flavorings (such as hops), and then letting yeast eat the starches and sugars so as to produce alcohol. Beer in Wodenberg is made primarily from oats and barley. Wheat is a minor crop, and is mostly ground up for bread flour. They also have other brewable crops on hand — apples, pumpkins, berries — as well as hops and some other bitter spices for balancing out the flavors. Wodenberg beer isn't likely to be filtered, and it certainly isn’t pasteurized.
These are some of the varieties that are mentioned in Disciple:
Small beer is a low-alcohol brew (about 1%, whereas “standard” beer is 4-6%) that can be made from the “leftovers” of brewing full-strength beer — or done in its own right with limited resources. It’s cheaper, quicker and easier, and was common from the medieval period right up through colonial America.
It’s weak stuff, by all accounts. Humble. Every mother in Wodenberg has her own personal recipe for small beer and her own secret ingredients. It’s made for household consumption, and unless it’s especially good it’s not likely to be sold.
This is the special-event drink of choice — higher alcohol content and it takes a bit more work to brew. Bock makes its first appearance at the Solstice banquet… and Kate loses track of how much she drinks, since the pages are so studious about keeping steins filled.
Oatmeal stout, to be specific. Since oats are a major crop in Wodenberg, oatmeal stout is common. Especially in the winter, when you want a hearty beer to keep the meat on your bones. Stouts can be bitter; it’s an acquired taste.
Ales are especially sweet beers brewed in warmer weather. In Wodenberg, the last ales of the summer are brewed from apples and early grains and they’re gone by mid-autumn.
Wodenberg got its herbal tea habit from the medicinal side — who doesn’t like a nice, hot cup of mint tea when you’ve got a stuffy nose? Since I based the climate and ecology of Wodenberg on New England, hunting down what herbs would be native, or at least easily grow there, was surprisingly challenging. Mint, bergamot (bee balm,) and rose hips, I was sure of. They’re all mentioned in Disciple.
All black teas come by way of trade from the empire of Arcea, which is currently intent on invading Wodenberg. But caffeine is a hard habit to break, as we all know. While the war sends prices through the roof, it’s still brought out for important guests.
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