Craft Beer Stories – Two Wolves
Two Wolves Arctic Blonde AND Two Wolves Great Plains Brown
Blonde Ale AND Brown Ale, 5.5 %
A thunderous clash shook the air around me. I fell, quite a great height, and landed on a soft field of moss.
“That was the last time I let a random sorceress transport me through a portal”, I said hoping that speech would distract me from the pain.
I got up but I still felt a jitter in my legs. At first I thought my medallion was humming, which would make sense with so much magic near a portal, but it was just my phone vibrating. I checked it and was impressed that the screen didn’t get any more scratches than it already had.
My phone lit up with two messages from the witch.
“Walk to the nearest tavern”, said the first. A lot of help when you don’t even know what dimension you’re in. “Tell them I sent you and you will get your brew”, read the second message. That did give me enough motivation to check my surroundings and find this tavern as fast as possible.
I thought it would be easy to get lost in the dark woods. But without modern light pollution the starry night sky provided a lot of illumination. I followed a faint glow in the distance, hoping it would be the candles of village homes rather than a wraith, and turned out to be lucky. My next guess was that the biggest wooden hut pulsing with chatter and laughter was the tavern. Again, I was right. With such great tracking and deduction skills, I should have enrolled in the Witcher School of the Wolf after all.
The tavern was quite busy. There were at least ten people there, so probably the whole village. None of them reared their head when I entered, so I assumed they must be used to strangers coming through. I walked up to the bar and got the inn keepers attention right away.
“Greetin’s stranger, mighty odd attire you’re spottin’. Must be comin’ from afar.”
“Yeah, the jetlag is killing me.”
“Nevermind. I’ve been sent by Coral. She said you got something for me.”
The keeper stopped cleaning that one glass he’s probably been wiping the entire night. He looked me up and down again, then checked if anyone was close by, before he leaned in close. I could smell the lack of hygiene coming through his shirt.
“Follow me, we shan’t do it ‘ere.”
He led me through the backdoor outside of the inn. I was fine with that, the air got so stale in there I wasn’t sure how long I would have lasted. He placed two containers very carefully onto a tree stump. When he stepped back I recognized them as beer cans, one white and the other black.
“The witch serves me well. I give ‘er note of all the people passin’ through. I dun know what she’s doin’ with ‘em, but in exchange she makes my crop grow fast. Never ‘ad been out of bread and mead in my inn since the day I met ‘er,” he paused to look around some more, “But this ‘ere is some witchcraft I don’t want nothin’ to do with. Tis a brew from another world and whatever happens to ye, will not concern me.”
He reached into the pocket of his apron and handed me the glass he’s been wiping so diligently.
“You might need this ‘ere.”
“No, thanks, I’m a professional and always prepared.”
I revealed my own container, a tulip shaped and crystal clear glass for the best experience of craft beer. He nodded, clearly impressed with my tool of taste, and headed back into his tavern.
Coral, a red haired sorceress I met during a competitive Gwent tournament in Vancouver, told me that she knew of a magnificent beer that could help enhance my abilities to imagine new worlds. Just like with my love for a certain burger franchise, I couldn’t say no to a cute redhead.
What the witch didn’t mention was that there would be two very different beers. I only had one tulip glass and the way the inn keeper was wiping, I didn’t trust him to have a way to rinse my glassware in between drinks. The beers were completely different, one a blonde ale and the other being brown. I couldn’t possibly drink both out of the same glass, the flavours would be all messed up.
Besides, there was something about Coral that in hindsight seemed suspicious, especially with the relationship she had with the inn keeper. There was a chance she was trying to trick me by drinking the wrong beer. I didn’t want to find out what would happen.
The pocket tulip glass I always carried with me should be enough of a hint that I was resourceful. So I did come prepared, despite Coral basically pushing me through that portal. I unlocked my phone and opened my browser history. After scrolling through a collection of google image searches marked “Triss Merigold NSFW” I finally arrived at the link I should have just bookmarked in the first place. There was no Wi-Fi connection in this world but thankfully I had a comprehensive data plan that would let me reach the internet even in the Northern Realms.
I quickly found the right section in the Witcher Wiki: an incantation that would exorcise spirits from a vessel and remove magic traps safely. I read them over in my mind first to make sure I wouldn’t mess up and accidentally end up summoning the Unseen Elder or something. Then I spoke the elvish words out loud.
A green mist surrounded the beers. It seemed to be pouring out of the cans and formed the shape of two men standing side by side. They were mere silhouettes, but I could make out their shapes and the fact that their spirits were wearing two swords each on their backs. They were Witchers!
“School of the Wolf, I’m guessing”, I said to break the awkward silence.
“And you are?” They replied in unison.
“I’m of that of the bee.”
“As in none of your bee’s wax. I summoned you, I ask the questions. This is important so shut up.”
The two spirits looked at each other and seemed to have decided to listen to me first before they tried to kill me.
“Which one of you will grant me the powers that I seek, and which one is gonna taste gross?”
The two Witchers shared another look. Then they both drew their swords.
I quickly closed my phone’s browser and opened the photo app. The spirits flanked me, ready to strike yet cautious over my defense strategy. True professionals even beyond the end of their lives, now that’s dedication to a craft. Once they assessed that I am no threat standing there like an idiot scrolling through hundreds of pictures of my dog, they lunged at me. I dropped my phone immediately and jumped backwards.
The Witchers stopped their swings before they could clash and turned towards me.
“You think we would be foolish enough to strike each other?” They asked in unison.
“No, I just needed you as close to my phone as possible.”
“What’s a phone?”
I pointed towards the device on the ground with its brightly lit screen facing upward. The screen pictured a purple symbol that resembled the outline of an hourglass.
“The Yrden sign”, they said astonished.
“That’s right, the most useless sign, except when you want to trap spirits.”
“There’s other uses for that sign, you moron, just because you don’t know how to properly utilize the abilities of a Witch-“
“Bub-bub-bub-buh, gonna stop you right there. I don’t need your lecture, I just need an answer to my previous question.”
“That’s the spirit.” I heard a cricket in the distance.
“None of these potions will grant you the powers you seek. They are enchanted vessels to hold our spirits.”
“Hmm, no that is not the answer I was looking for. Try again, which one is tastier?”
“We accepted a contract to drive off a sorceress. It seemed she was blackmailing the man who hired us and all we needed to do was get her to back off.”
“I like my beers hoppy, but I guess none of those two can deliver on that.”
“We thought two Witchers would be enough and there would be no danger, no risk of a fight that might end up with us…like this. Would have been easy coin in desperate times when not even the price on a Leshen could cover the cost of your potions. But we were wrong. Lytta Neyd was her name. The sorceress was wild tempered and did not like our proposition.”
“But I had a brown ale before that wasn’t half-bad either, so I’m really not sure what to decide on.”
The backdoor to the inn opened and the village bar tender impeded in our conversation.
“You’s were meant to free the Witchers and let them possess ye.” He said.
“Oh, like if I drank one of the beers with their spirit dusty musty-ness inside they’d take control of my body and then have another shot at getting rid of the witch that’s somehow blackmailing you into giving her sacrifices in the shape of drifters passing through?”
“How did ye know?”
“I pay attention to lore.”
“What are ye on about?”
“Nevermind, I’m not here to break curses, free spirits, or defeat evil sorceresses. I’m here to drink beer.”
I went over to the stump and grabbed both cans.
“Screw class and conventions, I’m gonna drink these straight out of the can. Since I exorcised the dipshit spirits out, they won’t be able to possess me.”
Immediately after that exposition, I cracked the white can open and took a big sip of the blonde ale. I detected a scent of pilsner in it before the flavours, which were richer than I expected, reached my mouth. A very inoffensive drink that goes down smoothly but contains more substance than a boring lager. Then I opened the brown ale. Its faint smell of malt reassured me that it wasn’t going to be extremely dark.
But I was wrong. The first few seconds were fine, but soon the malty flavour would take over. The taste of coal overcame my senses.
“That’s disgusting, it’s so dark.” I heaved.
“You’s overcome by black magic. Ye should ‘ave let the Witchers take the hag down instead of listenin’ to yer cravin’s.”
“Ugh, so gross. Here, you wanna finish that for me? I’d hate to waste beer, no matter how evil it tastes.”
One of the spirits took the can of brown ale and went for a big gulp.
“Not bad”, he said and shared the drink with his fallen comrade.
“Your poor judgement is what killed you in the first place, Witcher”, I replied, shaking my head in disbelief.
The inn keeper, clearly displeased with the three of us hanging out and drinking beer, stepped in between the spirits and made a big scene.
“What’s to become of me and my problem with the sorceress? I can’t keep workin’ for that wench! She’s bleedin’ me dry, won’t give me any more coppers and won’t provide spells for me crops either.” He stomped around violently.
“Careful, dude, don’t step on my-“
Another crack, this time it wasn’t a beer can opening. The inn keeper had stepped on my phone. The screen was shattered and with that, the Yrden sign was broken, too.
“Ah, shit, I still had six more months on that contract.”
The spirits nodded towards each other, than moved quickly in a semi-circle around the inn keeper before lunging at him. A green flare sparked in the dark of night when the Witcher spirits entered the body of the inn keeper. I took another sip of the blonde ale. It was washing down the yuck from the brown.
The inn keeper awoke, but his facial expression differed from before. A stoic glare that knows no fear has replaced the nervous twitch of a glass wiping peasant. By now, I finished the can of delicious arctic blonde.
“Alright, my job here is done. Time to get back. You guys need anything before I leave?” I asked the two Witcher spirits possessing the inn keeper.
“A job is a job. We need to fulfill our contract. Bring us to the sorceress, Lytta Neyd.”
“You know she goes by Coral nowadays?”
“It does not matter what she calls herself.”
It was weird to hear the inn keeper’s voice with such determined delivery. I wondered if the frail body those spirits inhabited would be enough to best a sorceress, especially since two capable Witchers didn’t seem to stand a chance. But that wasn’t my problem, was it?
“Yeah, whatever, you can crash on my couch for a night, just don’t make a mess.”
I picked up my phone off the ground. The screen was decimated yet still functional. I sent Coral a quick message. She replied instantly by opening a portal a few feet behind me.
“Let’s go boys. I know, not my favourite form of transportation either.”
We stepped through the portal and hopefully not into another trap.
Rating: One butcher out of Blaviken