When the characters on “Game of Thrones” aren’t having sex, torturing each other, killing, planning to kill, or talking about killing, they’re drinking. It’s a fair question to ask if anyone is ever sober in the seven kingdoms.
While the Lannisters have their wine, the common people, knights, and soldiers love their beer — usually drunk from a mug fashioned from a horn. There are no pilsners, no pumpkin beers, and certainly no dry-hopped double IPAs. Often, beer is simply referred to as just beer or ale, with no reference to the taste or quality, unlike how wine is referenced in the series.
Winterfell’s dark beer
In Winterfell, during the second episode of the first season, Tyrion Lannister asks for bread, fish, bacon (burnt black), and “a mug of dark beer to wash it down.” That dark beer was likely in the style of a German Schwarzbier.
Schwarzbier is a light-bodied black lager made with roasted malts. Lager yeast ferments in cold temperatures for a long time, and would hold up to frigid northern temperatures better than ale yeast, which ferments at a higher temperature.
Winterfell’s light beer
Like the dark Shwarzbier, Winterfell’s lighter beer is likely a German-style beer. There’s a good chance it’s a beer like an Oktoberfest or märzen.
Märzens were traditionally brewed in March, and then kept in cold storage and chugged in the fall. Cold storage in Winterfell basically means anywhere in Winterfell, but there’s never a bad time to chug a beer in the land of the Starks.
Wherever there are commoners in “Game of Thrones,” there is ale. It’s ale that the Hound demands from the farmer on the countryside in season four, episode three, and it’s ale that King Joffrey’s men drink when they go to the taverns north of King’s Landing.
Judging from its prominence near farmlands, much of the ale drunk in “Game of Thrones” is likely similar to saisons. Not big American craft beer saisons, but true, European farmhouse ale saisons. Hailing from France or Belgium, beers were made with leftover grain from the farm, naturally fermented with wild yeast, and then drunk throughout the hot summer days by farmhands. They’re a little funky, earthy, and refreshing.
Brown ale is common in the inns and taverns throughout Ashford and Riverrun, and is probably most similar to an English-style brown ale.
Brown ales are easy-drinking, light in body and alcohol, and extremely sessionable. That last bit is important so everyone can keep their wits about them before the next inevitable swordfight begins.
Small yellow beer
Lord Mormont, the commander of the Nights Watch, has a passion for small beer taken with a little lemon. That’s one way to drink bright and summery in a miserable place.
Small beer is very low-alcohol beer, usually below 4 percent alcohol by volume. They’re also not very flavorful, but the lemon helps with that while also conveniently warding off scurvy.
A small beer to try: Your favorite macro beer, Red Rock Brewing Hefeweizen. (Lemon not included.)