Brewing on the Pomarj
A sort of portmanteau of fog and grog, but there is considerable argument about the origin of the drink's name. Some say it is due to its cloudy or foggy appearance, reminiscent of the maritime weather of the coastal Pomarj, and also its low quality of production, being little better than ship's grog. Others say it is due to it having the flavor of frogs, as it is often fermented and stored in re-used barrels whose previous contents may have been any number of unsavory rations favored by the humanoid tribes of the area, and the low quality of water available for brewing around the city of Blue. Whatever the case, it is a top-fermented ale composed of mostly unmalted hard Pomarjian wheat and a small charge of imported malted barley to achieve an often incomplete starch conversion, resulting in a nearly opaque pale yellow to deep gold beverage with a creamy (some would say chunky) texture. Some brewers even add small amounts of squid ink or other colorants to make it actually blue after the name of its city of production. Both alcohol content and carbonation levels vary greatly, even within the same batch, as consistency is not a strongpoint of its brewers. It is mildly bittered with a number of local botanicals, including mugwort, bog myrtle, and henbane, along with hops when available, so the predominant flavors are a bready quality from the high proportion of unmalted wheat, as well as numerous off-flavors depending on the source of the vessels it was made and stored in.
A style recently saved from extinction by brewers fleeing from Stoneheim as it was falling to the humanoid tribes descending from the Lortmil range after the Hateful Wars, this brew is popular among the dwarven ex-patriots in Obsidian Bay, and also gaining a following among the populace at large. Brewed in stone kettles resembling the open-topped smelting forges in common use by dwarven smiths, what makes it unique is that it is fermented the first few days right in the kettle where it was boiled. The square kettles are generally crafted from a single block of stone, usually granite or basalt, with a firebox for coal carved underneath. The intense heat of the coal fire achieves a rigorous boil which caramelizes and partly scorches the rich sugars, which is why fermentation is begun in the kettle itself after it has cooled so that the yeast may consume the caramelized sugars and retain the flavors attained from the boil. After a few days, it is transferred to wooden barrels to finish fermentation and begin a six month aging period. Originally made from a majority of barley malt with lesser amounts of wheat, the recipe has had to be modified somewhat due to the availability of brewing ingredients in Obsidian Bay. The current version retains a fairly high percentage of malted barley along with the local hard wheat, but supplements some of the grain bill with wild rice. It is brewed to a relatively high strength of between 8-10% alcohol, which the dwarves consider simply a session beer. This results in a strong, heavy-bodied brown ale with a lot of residual caramel sweetness, notes of burned sugar and nuttiness from the wild rice, and a slight mineral quality in the finish. It is balanced and moderately bittered with Ulekian hops and woodruff, and generally kept at a moderate level of effervescence. When served from the finishing casks, a bronze tap is ceremoniously hammered in with appropriate dwarven oaths uttered, and mugs are poured full and capped with a tan head of foam accompanying the deep mahogany ale beneath, the first round traditionally drunk down in a single draught.
A local interpretation of Irongate Gruit brewed for the tastes of those who came with the Griffins Guild, this refreshing unhopped spiced fruit ale is made with some unique ingredients. Both malted hard wheat and barley are blended with wild gooseberries, as the hills surrounding Obsidian Bay are lousy with their thorny bushes. The hot mash is allowed to stand overnight so that it begins to sour. Gorse boughs aid with straining the liquid from the mash, and add a light resinous quality. It is further spiced with sweet gale, heather, and rosemary. After a brief boil, the hot liquid is poured out into shallow wooden troughs to cool before being collected in barrels to ferment. Stronger versions are sometimes brewed with the addition of honey when it is available. The result is a somewhat cloudy straw yellow drink, tart and spicy in flavor, with a crisp amount of bubbles that produces a thick white froth and keeps the drink lively until the end. Standard strength is between 3-5% alcohol, and is generally consumed with meals or as refreshment during long war councils of the Griffins Guild to keep heads clear, while the stronger honey-fortified version is 6-8% and used for celebratory occasions, and as a nightcap.
This is an elven specialty which bears mentioning, even though it is not a grain based drink. It is a cordial strength fortified and flavored sparkling fruit wine, and is also made from the prodigious gooseberry harvest taken from the hills around Obsidian Bay. A third of the wine produced is partially distilled to increase its strength, while the other two thirds are left to ferment and flavored with elderflower blossoms, lemon balm, and mint. The two portions are then blended back together and sealed in corked bottles for additional effervescence to build up over the course of several months. The finished beverage usually results in 12-15% alcohol, and is a pale green in color. While many of the rougher populace would never admit trying it, much less liking it, those who have often develop a secret craving for it and go to great lengths to discreetly obtain the drink while maintaining their tough reputations.
Imitating the dark ale style of neighboring Ulek, this drink is comprised of mostly malted barley which has been unevenly roasted, resulting in a range of flavors from deeply burned through lightly toasted. The traditional all-barley recipe of the Uleks has also been adapted to locally available ingredients, supplementing both hard wheat and wild rice in varying amounts, and occasionally even oats may find its way into a recipe, but these substitutions have only minimal impact on the flavor and affect the texture more acutely, the wheat and rice thinning out the body, while oats adding smoothness. This style has the greatest range of variability in both strength and adjuncts added of all the local brews. Some are made to only mild strength of 3-4% alcohol and are served along with breakfast, while others are made much stronger to as high as 18% and are better suited as after-dinner digestifs, but most are brewed to moderate strength of 5-7%. Some versions have added the roasted and ground berries of the Tyurzi mountain spikebush, a plant with moderate stimulative properties brought to the Pomarj by Suel settlers during the Great Migrations from their homeland. These roasted berries are otherwise used to brew a non-alcoholic and slightly addictive hot beverage (also called Scorchmug) which seems to aid both alertness and mental accuity, and is thus popular with adventurers camping in the field and guards on watch duty as well as scholars and wizards spending long hours pouring over ancient scrolls or arcane tomes alike. Its flavor seems to compliment the stout style well.