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Middle-earth and alcohol

Hamfast Gamgee
X-men

Nov 29 2020, 9:51pm

Post #1 of 14 (1409 views)
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Middle-earth and alcohol Can't Post

Well, I was wondering what type of alcohol might have been drunk in Middle-earth. Now some might say that the answer is obvious. Old-style real-ale in the Shire or Bree style inns or wine with the more wiser types. But I wonder if it is so clear cut. For a start with all of those apples around it might be a fair bet to say that cider would have been invented. And what type. And might the folk of the Shire have had the skills to make other fruit based drinks with shorts maybe. And might even had put some lemon or other fruits on them to make them exotic. And what about lager? Now these tales where set a long time ago, but this doesn't mean that lager might not have been drunk and appreciated. In Gondor maybe. In that hotter climate, the ability to brew lager might well have taken place. One might have needed a strong brew when dealings with the likes of Sauron. Although only a little and keeping a level head. obviously. And what about people like the Elves, Dwarfs and Wizards. Some might have had a brew all to themselves which we do not know about. For example, Saruman. Now, I don't doubt that some of his favorites amongst the men would have like the brew but I am not sure about him. He might have been not fond of beer. And what of the bad guys. I suspect that the Orcs or even Trolls would have drunk beer. Mixed in with blood, maybe. I wonder what peoples thoughts are. Those are some of mine!


InTheChair
Fantastic Four

Nov 29 2020, 10:38pm

Post #2 of 14 (1373 views)
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Mead maybe if Rohan is Anglo-Saxon based? Not sure. [In reply to] Can't Post

I know little more than what is mentioned in the books.

The best beer in the Eastfarthing is mentioned, so I am sure there's beer in Middle-Earth and likely all over Middle-Earth. I'm sure that includes Ale, and maybe Lager, wether by that name or not.
The Elves of Mirkwood are known to drink strong wine. So much that at least one of them fall asleep from it.

Maybe that flask of strong liquid that Ugluk had Merry drink from contained more than a little alcohol as well as other 'healing' ingredients.

Sauron? Don't know if he even required drink and food. Maybe, since he had body, but one can't know what he preferred.

I think it is safe to say that all the major incarnate races in Middle-Earth, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, all had their alcohol use. Maybe Trolls also. Don't remember if anything is said about those three Trolls in the Hobbit?


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Nov 29 2020, 10:39pm)


squire
Asgardian


Nov 30 2020, 12:07am

Post #3 of 14 (1371 views)
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Wine is the drink of the upper classes [In reply to] Can't Post

Besides the scene in The Hobbit, where the purloined wine is meant for the King and his court, we see Gandalf and Thorin as the only ones ordering wine at Bilbo's unexpected party at the beginning of that book.

In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo as one of the gentry class has an extensive wine cellar as well as beer and ale in his great hole; Faramir serves wine to the hobbits at Henneth Annun; and Denethor does the same for Pippin and Gandalf at Minas Tirith.

I may have missed other examples, but wine seems to be mentioned far less often than beer and ale, which is the alcoholic drink of choice at inns and towns that our various travellers pass through.

Noticeably missing are distilled liquors, except maybe for miruvor which seems to be a magical kind of brandy.



squire online:
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Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
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Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Nov 30 2020, 3:51am

Post #4 of 14 (1356 views)
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Beer, Wine and Other Stuff [In reply to] Can't Post

Beer, ales and wines are confirmed by the texts of the legendarium. The common name of the Brandywine for the Baranduin suggests knowledge of distilled spirits. The Elves of Rivendell had the knowledge to produce liquors such as miruvor while the Orcs had a crude liquor that they carried on their marches.

The miruvórë of the Valar seems to have been a mead derived from the flowers of Yavanna. It seems inconceivable that the Beornings would not produce mead. And hard ciders would have existed in Middle-earth even if Tolkien never specifically mentioned them. There likely would have been other forms of alcoholic beverage (such as rice wine) found in such regions as Rhûn and Near and Far Harad.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” - Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Nov 30 2020, 3:57am)


Asger
Spider-person


Nov 30 2020, 9:36pm

Post #5 of 14 (1326 views)
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Brandywine, not. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkiens explains the etymology of Brandywine River: from Baranduin: Red-brown River, to Bralda-hin: heady ale...

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Dec 1 2020, 1:46am

Post #6 of 14 (1320 views)
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That's true. [In reply to] Can't Post

We still have other evidence for distilled spirits though.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” - Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Dec 1 2020, 1:47am)


noWizardme
Asgardian


Dec 1 2020, 12:17pm

Post #7 of 14 (1288 views)
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...As you might expect from Tolkien's own experience [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Wine is the drink of the upper classes


...As you might expect from Tolkien's own experience. In my recollection at least English tastes in food and drink diversified a lot from the 1970s.

Before that I'd expect the Inklings to get wines with their dinner at college, but a pub that sold wines or lagers would at that time be sufficiently unusual that it would have a sign saying so.

And we were well into the 1970s before wines began to be sold in supermarkets and other outlets for home consumption by a wider range of customers than before. Oh and back then if you had olive oil in the house it would be a small phial as a treatment for earaches...

It's easy to miss how much has changed, and how (I therefore think) odd wine-drinking working hobbits would probably have seemed to Tolkien's first audiences, or perhaps to the author himself. Of course I mean this influence would have been in addition to what would seem right to imagine the mostly-medieval word of Middle-earth. Or the fantasy English "Fairest Isle" rural idyll of the Shire. Both of those set up certain expectations, which have been well-covered already, I think.

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


Belegdir
Fantastic Four


Dec 1 2020, 2:02pm

Post #8 of 14 (1281 views)
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I would expect to see country wines [In reply to] Can't Post

like pea-pod, elderflower, dandelion and other things made from items readily available on the farm or in the wild. The won't win any awards but it would have the desired effect.


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Dec 9 2020, 1:44pm

Post #9 of 14 (1174 views)
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Eastern beverages [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There likely would have been other forms of alcoholic beverage (such as rice wine) found in such regions as Rhûn and Near and Far Harad.


I don't know that Tolkien ever mentioned rice in connection with his legendarium, but he certainly mentioned tea, so wherever Bilbo's tea comes from (the East of East, beyond the Last Desert?), rice may be grown as well. However, rice is generally grown in well-watered areas, and rice and tea cultivation imply a sedentary society, whereas one might expect a group of people referred to as "Wainriders" to be a bit nomadic.

For the Easterlings of Rhûn who live near Rhovanion, I'm thinking fermented mare's milk (koumiss) might be a common alcoholic drink. For something stronger, maybe some distilled liquors made from grains such as sorghum, millet, barley, or wheat, although again that would imply some degree of sedentary agriculture.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Dec 9 2020, 2:47pm

Post #10 of 14 (1172 views)
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Mead [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It seems inconceivable that the Beornings would not produce mead.


Indeed, it is inconceivable, because Bilbo's company is served "wooden drinking-bowls filled with mead" during their stay at Beorn's hall. The Fellowship is also served a cup filled with "white mead" as they bid farewell to Lothlórien. This appears to indicate that mead was well-known at least in the Vales of Anduin. And, given that the Rohirrim came from that area, it may be reasonable to suppose they were acquainted with mead as well, although wine seems to be their beverage of choice at the end of the Third Age, given that Éowyn passes around a cup of wine to Théoden and the guests. Saruman's stores of "man-food" contain wine and beer, which might indicate that the men living in nearby Rohan had similar preferences.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Dec 9 2020, 3:17pm

Post #11 of 14 (1170 views)
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Good catches! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
[reply
It seems inconceivable that the Beornings would not produce mead.


Indeed, it is inconceivable, because Bilbo's company is served "wooden drinking-bowls filled with mead" during their stay at Beorn's hall. The Fellowship is also served a cup filled with "white mead" as they bid farewell to Lothlórien. This appears to indicate that mead was well-known at least in the Vales of Anduin. And, given that the Rohirrim came from that area, it may be reasonable to suppose they were acquainted with mead as well, although wine seems to be their beverage of choice at the end of the Third Age, given that Éowyn passes around a cup of wine to Théoden and the guests. Saruman's stores of "man-food" contain wine and beer, which might indicate that the men living in nearby Rohan had similar preferences.


I'd completely forgotten about those mead references! Thanks for that. As for Saruman's wine, that could have come from many sources from Gondor to Dorwinion or the Shire--but maybe also from Rohan.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” - Alan Moore, V for Vendetta


Otaku-sempai
Avenger


Dec 9 2020, 3:29pm

Post #12 of 14 (1169 views)
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Re: Eastern beverages [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I don't know that Tolkien ever mentioned rice in connection with his legendarium, but he certainly mentioned tea, so wherever Bilbo's tea comes from (the East of East, beyond the Last Desert?), rice may be grown as well. However, rice is generally grown in well-watered areas, and rice and tea cultivation imply a sedentary society, whereas one might expect a group of people referred to as "Wainriders" to be a bit nomadic.

For the Easterlings of Rhûn who live near Rhovanion, I'm thinking fermented mare's milk (koumiss) might be a common alcoholic drink. For something stronger, maybe some distilled liquors made from grains such as sorghum, millet, barley, or wheat, although again that would imply some degree of sedentary agriculture.


Well, why would you assume that all Easterlings are nomadic? The Wainriders were only one group of Easterlings and may be far from representative all all the diverse peoples who might dwell in the eastern regions of Middle-earth. I know that Tolkien's rough sketches of M-e show much less land-mass in those eastern lands than we see in the modern world, but those illustrations depict Middle-earth in the First Age and earlier, so they might not represent lands that rose after the War of Wrath and the Change of the World. The maps also don't give us a good sense of the diversity of environments that might exist if the distant East and far South.

I never mentioned tea since we've been concentrating on alcoholic beverages. Good point though with koumiss; that easily squares with more nomadic cultures. I wish that I'd thought to mention it. Again, there might well be more settled cultures in the East and South that Tolkien never touched upon. In fact, to me it seems all but certain.

#FidelityToTolkien
#DiversityWithFidelity

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” - Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Dec 9 2020, 3:30pm)


Hasuwandil
Fantastic Four


Dec 10 2020, 3:53pm

Post #13 of 14 (1122 views)
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East of East [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Well, why would you assume that all Easterlings are nomadic?

I don't, necessarily, but perhaps I was second-guessing my audience. To be clear, for anyone reading, Rhûn means "East" in Sindarin, and technically encompasses anything east of Rhovanion, however far Middle-earth extends in that direction. So speaking of Rhûn is kind of like speaking of "Asia". Same with Harad, which just means "South". Of Sauron's Mannish allies, only Khand seems to be the name of a specific state with finite boundaries.

Of course, from the point of view of the Men and Elves of the West, not much is known about such places except for the parts that are close to Gondor (which at one point extended as far south as Umbar) and Rhovanion. The "Easterlings" that Gondor and Rhovanion are familar with are those who live near the Sea of Rhûn, such as the Wainriders and the Balchoth. They are noted for riding horses, riding in wagons and chariots, and preferring to fight out in the open. They seem to be analogous to various nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppes, such as the Scythians, Huns, or Mongols, although Tolkien did not explicitly say they were nomadic.

But presumably there were other lands, even further east. Oddly enough, Bilbo Baggins of all people seems to be familiar with such places as the "Last Desert" in "the East of East", which may correspond to the Gobi Desert at the far eastern end of the Eurasian steppes.

Getting back to the topic, from what I've found, it seems that the most numerous mentions of alcohol are in relation to Hobbit territory (the Shire and Bree) and Gondor. In Hobbit territory the most common alcoholic drinks seem to be varieties of beer: beer, ale, and porter. There is also wine, at least some of it local: Old Winyards is described as a red wine from the Southfarthing. In Gondor the common drinks seem to be ale and wine. Frodo and Sam were served a "pale yellow wine" in Ithilien. Presumably grapes could be grown in Gondor as well as the Southfarthing. Then there is the wine of Dorwinion, which was favored by the Elves of the Woodland Realm. Perhaps Gondor also traded with Dorwinion, but any such trade would be interrupted whenever the Easterlings were causing trouble.

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


Hamfast Gamgee
X-men

Dec 19 2020, 10:49pm

Post #14 of 14 (1036 views)
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A few more points [In reply to] Can't Post

Seen as we are talking, good replies by the way. I wonder if the Rangers had a beer pouch with them when they went on their journeys in the wild. Or kept little stashes of alcohol stored in secret places! Maybe some of the inns in the Shire where like micro-pubs which brewed their own beer on site or perhaps there was a little brewery in the Shire. With those employed in it.

 
 

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