“Robert Baratheon took a long swallow of beer, tossed the empty horn onto his sleeping furs, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and said darkly, ‘Fat? Fat, is it? Is that how you speak to your king?’ He let go his laughter, sudden as a storm. ‘Ah, damn you, Ned, why are you always right?'” (Game of Thrones)
Martin mentions a variety of different beers throughout the series, and we wanted to find some modern beers that could be rough equivalents. The Beer in ASoIaF breaks down as follows: beer with lemon (sometimes for breakfast), pepper beer, dark beer, beer for every day, and autumn ale. To be sure we did the beers justice, we called in a friend who knows more about the juice of the barley than we ever will; Here are his terrific suggestions:
For lemon in beer
Try a traditional with a German Hefeweizen. They are customarily served with a lemon wheel in the rim, (though this is a much eschewed practice amongst beer geeks). To serve, pour out 3/4 of the beer, swirl remaining beer in the bottle to agitate the yeast, then pour the rest. Slap a lemon wheel on the rim or just squeeze a little bit in. Any German Hefe is a pretty good bet for an older style example; a more modern American style wheat beer that’s pretty tasty is Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat.
As far as pepper beer
Take a Belgian style Witbier and add some finely ground pepper. Use a touch; a little goes a long way. This style in particular is best because it will usually has some white peppery qualities. (It actually pairs very well with pepper crusted Chevre). An older style would be any Wit brewed in Belgium (Hoegaarden, St. Bernardus, Steen Brugge, Witkap, etc), and a modern example would be Allagash White Ale. We shied away from the chili-pepper varieties of beer because they can be so hit or miss, but if you’ve got a recommendation, we’d love to hear it!
For a dark strong beer
Stout is the archetypal dark beer, but it’s a fairly new invention (about 200 years old). Imperial Stout, Belgian Strong Dark, or Doppelbock are all excellent options. For a modern strong dark beer, try Stone’s Russian Imperial Stout. For something more rustic, try a Belgian strong dark . Doppelbock is a classic old world strong, dark lager that may also be most appropriate to Westeros. It’s a beer that has a long history (perhaps not as far back as we’d like, but pretty far) and is awesome to boot. Celebrator Doppelbock is another good option and is fairly widely distributed.
For everyday beer
Williams Brothers Brewing Co. has a line of beers called Historic Ales of Scotland. If they aren’t at your local good beer store they should easily be able to get them if you ask. This series includes Fraoch Heather Ale, brewed with heather, historically used before hops were widely available. The Alba Scots Pine Ale is brewed with spruce, something else that was used in lieu of hops.
We don’t know how widely available hops are in Westeros, but for something hops-based, try Belgian Saison; it’s rustic, traditional and is sometimes called “farmhouse ale.” A good old world version is Saison DuPont, an excellent modern version is Ommegang’s Hennepin, or any Saison by Stillwater Brewing.
An Autumn Ale
Is a tough one, since Autumn in relation to taste is fairly ambiguous, but interested beer aficiandos might try a Marzen, which is a German beer traditionally brewed in March for Oktoberfest (although it’s technically a lager not an ale). Anything actually from Germany will be good, especially Paulaner. Other options include English Brown Ale, or Scottish Ale. Both are Autumnal in flavor. (Belhaven makes a nice light Scottish Ale.) For an American beer, Dogfish Head’s, Post Road, or Smuttynose’s are all very good and have seasonal beers that might work well as “Autumn ale.”
And that’s what we’ve got! I’m sure this will be a popular post, so give us your ideas and suggestions too!