The final episode of Game of Thrones season two airs this Sunday, and we are huge fans of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and HBO’s epic adaptation of them. In part one of the two-part series (part two is here) we’ve got recommendations on what to serve during your finale viewing party that mirror the beers that could be found in the regions of Westeros.
Beer in Westeros
Westeros is the continent that’s home to the seven kingdoms and the setting of the intrigue, war, and strife of the series. Martin instilled his fantastic land with layers of realistic depth that go far beyond the details shown in the HBO series. While the characters in the series are often shown drinking wine, beer is a very popular drink in Westeros; just as it was in the medieval Europe that the society is based on. And like medieval Europe, the beer in Westeros would be influenced by geography and weather. The following suggestions are extrapolations of what styles of beer a particular region of the fictitious continent would likely produce, and they were compiled with the help of a fantastic post on the Inn at the Crossroads: a food-blog dedicated recreating the (many) meals and foods that Martin describes in the books. One commenter on the post in particular was extremely helpful when putting this article together, and many thanks to Justin for much of the ground-work.
Martin mentions many different types of beers in the books ranging from dark ales to pepper beer and a breakfast beer with lemon, but the HBO series has glossed over much of the details. Last week we saw Captain of the Guard Bronn enjoy a song and a horn of brown beer the night before the climactic battle, and the men of the Nights Watch in the far north have been shown drinking dark beer. Here are a few suggestions on craft beers to enjoy based on historical brewing factors and flavors that would be evocative of the regions:
Winterfell is the capitol of the North, and the seat of the heroic and noble Starks. The cold and foreboding castle is heated from hot springs on the castle grounds, and the lands it rules over are harsh and sparsely populated. Many comparisons to Scotland are made, and the beers produced in the north could be styles comparable to the scotch ales. An oatmeal stout could conceivably be a more common everyday beer, especially for the men of the Nights Watch walking the wall. Northman brewed beers could also eschew hops for a more native bitter agent like heather or gruit-like spices.
- Oskar Blues Old Chub: This Scottish strong ale is brewed with a touch of smoked malt to give it an added depth.
- Ommegang Cup O Kyndnes: This special addition ale also used smoked malt and it adds heather tips instead of hops for bittering.
- Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin: An easy drinking oatmeal stout with bold dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors.
The the city that houses the iron throne is situated on the cliffs above the eastern ocean in a Mediterranean climate. Wine is the drink of choice in the king’s city, but there would no doubt be prosperous breweries serving the large population, as well as ample trade goods arriving in the city from ports far and wide. Locally produced beers would need to use a yeast tolerant to high temperature which suggests Belgian styles like the saison or the Belgian strong ale. Additionally wheat may be more common than barley and refreshing wheat beers could be prevalent.
- Stone / Victory / Dogfish Head Saison Du Buff: This collaboration beer, which should be widely available now, uses a selection of herbs for flavor and is refreshing and unique. It could be a favorite in the noble residences of King’s Landing.
- Lost Abby Lost and Found: An Abby ale ripe with fruit and spice flavors that would be right at home with Maester Pycell in the rookery of the Red Keep.
- Golden Road Hefeweizen: Martin mentions beer with lemon in the books and this refreshing and slightly phenolic hefe is brewed with orange peels. A beer more suited to the workmen and soldier than the noblemen.
Ancestral home of the Baratheons, the Stormlands have a climate similar to the Pacific Northwest and would produce much of the continent’s hops. And hop producing regions produce hoppy beers, and in this case pale ales or red ales would be well suited for transport by sea.
- Eagle Rock Brewing Revolution: This XPA is full of citrusy and resinous hops and brings to mind images of Robert’s Rebellion that started the whole mess in the first place.
- Green Flash Brewing HopHead Red: A pungent and potent red ale that uses a bounty of different hops to balance the caramel sweet malt backbone.
- Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye: The marshes on the borders of the Stormlands could produce rye more easily than barley and this Rye-IPA has a distinct spicy quality from the rye used.
Beer for Your Champion
Game of Thrones would not have become the cultural phenomenon that it has without a core of rich and nuanced characters. From the brutal cruelty of the young king Joffrey to the unwavering honor of poor ol’ Ned Stark, everyone has their favorite character to root for or to boo for, and in part two of Beers in Westeros we will look at what craft beers best capture the essence of the show’s most popular characters.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? What beer do you think goes best with the show (or the books?) Let’s hear about it in the comments!