I was thinking the other day how peculiar it is that the traditional drink of dwarves is beer/ale and for elves it’s wines.
See, the problem is that beer and ale are grassland drinks. Human drinks. In World of Warcraft I could see Tauren being big on them as well.
Elves are nature lovers. Barring High Falutin’ elves, they tend to be in and around forests, or maybe fields of flowers. So what should their drinks be? Fruit wines, perhaps, though brandies seem more appropriate. Oh, and let us not forget meads. What are elves without copious flowers about? And where there are flowers, there are bees. I can see elves doing wines, too — moreso than I can see dwarves with beers — but it’s not really that good a fit.
Wines are for hill-dwellers. I understand the social reasons Tolkien gave the hobbits beer, but frankly THEY should have been the wine-growers. Hill-dwellers, not mountain folk. Oh, grapes grow on plains, but seem to do better on mild slopes. Go look at pictures of ‘great’ vineyards and see for yourself. Rolling hills…
So what do dwarves drink? Me, I’d go for a couple of beverages. First, “root potables”. Starchy root vegetables, fermented and distilled. Sweet potato shochu, irish potato poitin, sugar beet raki, chicorium (from chicory), vodkas, and so on and so forth. Mashed roots, fermented and distilled. For what it’s worth I can see dwarves making whiskeys as well, turning weak ales and beers into “real” drinks. Probably not any peat smoking, however, as dwarves and bogs won’t mix very well. Traditionally they’ve got plenty of fires anyway, no need to bring plants in for burning as well.
The other drink for dwarves is psychedelics from mushrooms. “Mushroom teas” is the basic idea. With no starches or sugars they’ll not ferment, but there are plenty of effects even without that depressant in the works.
Oh, and of course there are root beers — not the candy drink a lot of us are used to but mild alcohols with roots substituting for the grains. Ginger Beer, for one example. Some will be related to harder cousins like barley beers are to whiskys.
So anyway, I see dwarves best be imagined as, well, stereotypical hell’s angels, stoned and drinking hard alcohol. Elves still sip daintily, but it’s meads and fruit wines and brandies, not the grape. Grapes are the province of hobbits, gnomes, and other hill-dwellers. If you wish a fine grain beer, find plains farmers, be they human, tauren, or whatever.
This isn’t to say you wouldn’t find beers and wines among dwarves, or that humans wouldn’t brew vodkas. Fine drinks tend to migrate. But there’s an attachment between drinks and origins even if someone else does it better.
Feel free to pitch in, any fantasy, any drink.