Do the Eldrae Have Beer?

…is a question I’ve been asked recently.

(Aside to the querent: sorry to miss your IM – was away from the computer.)

Well, the few past references aside, it depends on what exactly you mean by beer.

In the fine tradition of SF “translations” that avoid torturing the language too much and thus reading like scientific papers, I indulge in using “bird” to represent the whole complex of morphologically similar “avioids”, “fish” to represent many similar bony sea creatures likewise, and so forth. (In Eldraeic, of course, there are separate sets of words to represent these groups vis-a-vis taxonomically grouped critters, thus avoiding the whole problem.) By a similar rule, “beer”, in this case, represents the entire general class of fermented, non-distilled, naturally carbonic alcoholic beverages produced from “grains” of one sort or another.

That said, the answer is still “yes and no”, so far as booze from Eliéra is concerned, due to the curious hybrid origins of its biosphere. Yeasts exist, both the beer and bread kinds, although obviously evolved and bred in different directions. Hops per se don’t exist, but developments from the same family of plants do that are, ah, close enough for brewmasters’ work. Also, there are alternatives which are used for both flavoring and preservation.

Now, the grains. Wheat (landesh) exists *there*, so you can walk into a bar on Eliéra and get a wheat beer almost indistinguishable from something you might drink on Earth. Barley doesn’t, however, so the majority of the beer there is brewed from irdesh, a bluelife grain whose sugar profile makes it eminently suitable for the task.

The combination of these factors means that while the constituents and styles are different, there’s a strong family resemblance. An eldrae and a human who walked into a bar and swapped drinks would probably recognize them both as “beer”, albeit as not a familiar style to them. (Well, except possibly for some of the particularly outré examples, like the thick and heavy stouts the dar-bandal favor, yeasty sediment included, or one of those fruit beers with a rich purple color from their xaról-berry flavoring, etc., in lieu of hops.)