I’m kind of a sucker for useful thematic things. That’s why I do have an USS Enterprise pizza cutter, but I don’t have a miniature USS enterprise in my display cabinet. Ok, I don’t have a display cabinet. I also don’t understand the hype called Funko Pops, but I do have a lot of paintings hanging around the house by Dave Pollot. So to each their own.
What I also love are thematic food products. Not the pasted on lolly’s, but the Hartenkoeken from the Efteling, the Laafse Lurk, Lebber and Limoen, The Harry Potter candy that was very popular in the nillies and the Discworld ales that were available until two years ago.
If you are reading this and think:”What’s a Discworld?” I recommend you run to your local book shop right now and buy one or two of the over 41 Discworld books that are available. I have no doubt your local book shop will have several if not all of them. These books are classics like Lord of the Rings is a classic and will be readily available for years to come. Some reading advise. You don’t have to start with the first book The colour of magic, most fans even advise against it. That’s because it’s not the best written of the series and Pratchett gets better (and really a lot better) some books in, when the story is more fleshed out. But where to start then? Well, there are storylines within the series and one thing you can do is choose a theme you like and start there. If you like wizards you can start with The colour of Magic, but Sourcery is also a good start. If you are interested in the Industrial revolution you may want to start with Moving Pictures overall, but the main industrial revolution’s character of the series, Moist von Lipwig, has his debut a few books later in Going Postal. If you like washed out police men you should start the Watch series with Guards! Guards!. If you are interested in a hilarious DEATH personification, you should begin with Mort. When you are into witches, you should start with Equal Rites (which has an interesting theme, but the writing is still not up to par) or Wyrd Sisters. If you are more interesting in a starting teenage witch, elves and small agressive blue men, then I’d recommend The Wee Free Men. Last if you are frustrated with the current beliefs and the way we as humanity tend to look at gods and death, you might want to try Small Gods.
After you have finished the series, come back here to read about the themed ales.
In the books themselves alcohol is not shunt and a lot of the ales made by ales by mail were in the books some way or the other or are at least were avery nice interpretation of what could have been. One of the most famous drinks in the book is Nanny Ogg’s Scumble cider or Suicider. Nanny Ogg is the most fun witch ever. She seems like a harmless old big lady that likes to party and has a lot of ex-husbands, but in reality she is one of the strongest witches out there and probably the only one that can ‘control’ Granny Weatherwax. This lethal scumble drink was translated into a much safer roundworld version, simply known as Nanny Ogg’s Scumble, an official Discworld Cider. According to the label it was made in the Lancre Marshes and it contained mainly apples. It was officially brewed by Bursar Vixen, which is – quite disturbingly – a baby stuff shop these days. It had an alcohol percentage of 8,2% ABV. It was a sweet cider, which made it quite deceivable, because it didn’t taste like overly alcoholic. There was some dyacetyl in it, which fitted the description. The most striking feature was the colour though, it was almost pale, not at all what you would expect with a cider. A perry maybe, but certainly not a cider.
The standard 4 bottle gift pack consisted of Bledlow’s Silence, an English IPA, Modo’s Midden, A Golden Ale, Bugarup Blonde, a Blond Ale and Hix’s Darkside, An Oatmeal Stout, although I never had the last one, so there must have been a time there were only blond beers in the fourpack. Then to the end there were Black Hogswatch, an English Mild Ale, Founder’s Ale, an English Bitter, Ridcully’s Revenge, an Extra Strong Bitter, Taking the Dark, a Black IPA, and Jimkin Bearhugger’s Invalid’s Restorative, a Golden Ale. There were also other ales at some point, namely Old Kingdom, a bottle conditioned ale, Bonk beer, an Uberwald Pilsner, Granny Weatherwax’s Honey Ale (which is storywise logical because of her special relationship with bees), Albert’s Drip (I don’t know what that was, but Albert was a nasty character, so…), Fifty 1948-1998, of which I don’t know either what it was and Old Blonk Steam Beer. The last beer ever was the L-Space Voyager.
I have not had the chance to drink them all unfortunately, so I’ll just stick to the ones I did drink. Most of the beers are suppodly brewed by the Boathouse Brewery of the Unseen University.
The Bledlows are the policemen of the Unseen University, the University of the Wizards. They are basically thugs that believe in the guilt of everybody and are not to be trifled with. They are compared to old English Porters (not the beer) and they like their liquor. Bledlow’s Silence was a classic English IPA of 5,5% ABV, made with Simcoe and Chinook hops. It was bitter, but not as bitter as an American IPA, although more bitter than most English IPA’s. It was mostly fruity, a bit of grapefruit and tropical fruits and a bit of pine and had quite an intense flavour.
I drank Modo’s Midden, Black Hogswatch and Bugarup Blond but they did not particularly stand out and I don’t remember them well. Modo was one of the dwarves of Discworld, so of course he liked ale, almost as much as gold (but actually iron). He was also employed by the Unseen University. Hogswatch are the Holidays of the Discworld. The Hogfather, a Santa like piggish figure, is a winter god and has a sled pulled by hogs.
Founder’s Ale, Ye Umber Nectar, was a beer of 4,3% ABV, which is quite a lot for an English beer. It was dedicated to Alberto Malich the Wise, the founder of the university and a character who turns out to be someone else as well, someone I might have mentioned in this post already, but no spoilers here. The label warns against drinking it outside of the University in case of unwanted magical effects. The ale was a standard English Best Bitter, quite floral, maybe a tad bit thin.
Ridcully, the current University’s Archchancellor is quite the foody, but of the extravagant, overdone type. The type that wants spicy food because he can handle spicy, who wants strong and intense flavours only. He hunts for fun and always carries a crossbow (there’s a lot of storage room in those pointy wizard hats). So of course, Ridcully’s Revenge is a for English standards intense beer, namely an ESB. It was not unlike Fuller’s ESB. It was bottle conditioned, and English like their beers clear, so it was advised not to pour the whole bottle and let it stand up a bit before pouring.
I’m sad I never had the chance to drink the Assassin’s Guild beer Taking the Dark, nor Hix’s darkside, a beer dedicated to the Professor of Post-Mortem Communications, nor Granny’s Honey Ale. I don’t mind having missed the Vampire pilsner of Bonk. L-Space Voyager might still be available, it was the last one brewed. It was the only one in a can and was an ode to the Librarian, a very intelligent banana obsessed ape. That’s probably why they chose a hefeweizen, because of the banana flavours. L-space is the space of all the libraries of the world being connected, because of the magic of large quantities of books to warp space and time around them. That’s why trained librarians can travel the multiverse (which is probably not the same multiverse as the Flash multiverse).
Unfortunately Ales by Mail stopped brewing in the spring of 2018. It’s not said that these beers will never be brewed again, but they certainly are not available at this moment. We can only hope for a continuation in the future. But you can still enjoy them by reading the books to visit the Unseen University, drink a beer in the Mended Drum, share a scumble with Nanny in Tir Nani Ogg in Lancre Town or get wasted with Captain Vimes.
With which book did you start your love for the Discworld?