Winterberry Varieties in Respect of Winterberry Ale

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Winterberry Varieties in Respect of Winterberry Ale is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

Winterberry Varieties in Respect of Winterberry Ale

Penned by Riuven Wysamaer, local naturalist of River's Rest, this 14th day of Ivastaen in the year 5116.

Winterberry ale has long been one of the more tame claims to fame that River's Rest can boast, and its origin and precise recipe has always been a question of both contention and mystery. This is true of those hailing from outside the fair town, but perhaps most especially by those within it. The distinctive flavor of the ale is a point of pride for residents, and it is also one many have sought (and failed miserably) to duplicate. Countless are the brawls that have undoubtedly broken out between connoisseurs of genuine winterberry ale and those that would speak dissent.

Byron, the well-known keeper of the Stone Eye where winterberry ale is served, has never parted with the secret of the ale: nary a whisper about the makers, the recipe, or even the berries themselves. Most citizens of the Rest are simply satisfied with the timelessness of the brew, the consistency of its quality, and its integrity as a cherished aspect of Rest culture.

However, amid some recent contention among former importers of the ale and those attempting to pass off lesser concoctions as the genuine article, those behind the brew have decided to break their long held silence to offer a peek into the ale that has become an establishment in and of itself, beloved by all that are True Resters at heart. And, of course, to say anything about winterberry ale, one must start with the winterberries.

For those unfamiliar with River's Rest, those that were not fortunate enough to be born or raised there (or spend any significant amount of time there), it is understandable to assume that the bright red winterberries found in Icemule are the only winterberries to be found. It's natural, after all, given the name: WINTERberries and ICEmule. It seems logical enough.

This prevalent misconception has only been made more so by the seeming lack of winterberry patches in River's Rest. However, as many know, being unable to see a thing should never suggest that it doesn't exist.

Those responsible for the cultivation of the Rest's winterberries have kept their secrets close and their berries even closer. Long have the locations of the patches been kept under lock and key in an effort to preserve the pedigree of the berries as well as allow the growers to safeguard their market dominance in terms of the coveted fruit. That said, it should come as no surprise that one of River's Rest's finest pirate families is responsible for the brew, though it would be unwise to specify which house.

Suffice to say that the recipe and tradition are well in hand and well guarded. But, what of the winterberries themselves?

Much like other berries -- notably blueberries and blackberries and raspberries -- there are different varieties. Each has its own particular features and growing conditions. Resters would like to suppose that River's Rest's own berries were the originators of the species, a gift of Aeia's own grace, but in reality, who can say. They've been here as long as there have been growing things and are likely to remain long after many have passed away.

While the variety of winterberries found in the region of Icemule bear the same name, they differ greatly in appearance and taste from those found in River's Rest. The small berries boast a glossy, bright red coloring, and the interior pulp is a rosy blush hue. Occasionally, the pulp of these berries can become grainy, which makes them better suited for use in jams and jellies, as well as baked goods, as they tend to be less juicy in this condition. The skins also lend a certain amount of sour to the flavor of the berries, but this usually evens out when they are allowed to mature fully. This variety is (quite obviously) very tolerant of cold, even icy conditions, which sets it apart from many other fruits. It is said eating the berries while they're coated with a sheen of ice at the height of ripeness will satisfy nearly any candy craving.

On the other hand, River's Rest's winterberries are much larger and blue-black in coloring, with a pale violet pulp. This variety is seldom victim of a grainy texture as this condition is frequently caused by either being left too long on the bush or a lack of water. As Rest winterberries grow best in swampy, marsh-like conditions, a lack of water is rarely an issue. While most berries can suffer under the beating of a harsh sun, those grown here seem to thrive on it, ripening to maturity in the mid to late summer. They should be picked when the ashy haze has left their skins and the blue of their coloring is prominent around the picking scar. While the skins are tart, they are not as sour as those of the northern variety, and the pulp tends to be very juicy, with a moderately sweet and slightly floral flavor. These qualities make the Rest's winterberries ideal to create everything from ale to wine to brandy, lending all of their flavor, while giving less of a bitter aftertaste than other fruits.

Hopefully this information has resolved some measure of the mystery around winterberries, the signature fruit of River's Rest, and various other varieties.

Other Info

  • Created by GM Xayle
  • Released May 14, 2016