I’ve been listening to The London and Country Brewer, which was an anonymous book completed in the late 19th Century. It’s fascinating, in that it describes an industrial process which is still followed today by craft brewers, but to which I’d had no real exposure. Given that brewing, at least to the level of creating small beer, is a task found in all communities above a climatological line in Mythic Europe, it gave me some insights into covenant life.
Magi have the best beer of anyone in Mythic Europe. The process of making beer is that barley is soaked and left to germinate, then dried. The fuel used to dry the malt gives it some of its flavour. The anonymous brewer suggesting coke and coal without sulphur are the best, as they give the cleanest flavour. Coke is technichally unknown in Mythic Europe, and “sea coal” as it is called, to differentiate it from charcoal, is rare, if known. The next best choice is dry straw, and that’s presumably available because it can be harvested from the fields of barley. It gives the beer a grassy taste, but it’s not as bad as either the smoky flavour of wood, or the weird flavour of burned bracken. Magi can produce smokeless heat, and so their beer is like that made in modern electrical kilns: free of undesired flavours.
Mythic Europeans rarely use hops. Hops are flowers of a particular vine, used as a bittering agent. This countaeracts the sweet flavour given to the beer by the process of fermenting barley starches into sugars. Hops are used only in Germany at this point, and this use is far from universal, but the Thirteenth Century is when this new technology rolls out across the continent. It is found that hopped beer lasts longer.
Lacking hops, herbal mixtures are used for bittering. This is called gruit, and different areas and brewers had their own gruits. When hops are taxed, people use gruit, and when gruit is taxed, they switch to hops. Later, during the Reformation, gruit use was seen as a Protestant practice, because in many areas, the monopoly on hops was held by monasteries.
There is a subset of Criamon magi who have been trying to make enlightening beers for generations: some gruits are literally hallucenogenic. What happens when one of these Criamon gets it right, or right enough, that drunk people gain magical powers?.
How fortunate for Mythic Europeans that hops appeared at this time. Are they a faerie plant, or do new faeries cluster about them?
Hermetic magi can make as many hops as they like as part of magical brewing, its covered by the ingredients exemption in Rego magic. The problem is that, if hops are a monastic monopoly in the local area, being able to make them is depriving the monastery of their income. They may take action against the covnenat’s theft of Church money.
A bewster has died without passing on the recipe of her family’s prized gruit. Can the player characters call her up, and convince her ghost to part with it?