Saturday, 7 May 2011

inns & taverns: the miller in black

A distinctive inn, The Miller in Black is it's own sign.  This pitch-caulked windmill standsproud atop a hill.  Bawdy drinking songs accompanied by the clunk of the windmill carry on the wind luring visitors in.  The paths here are well-trod, rarely if ever seeing monstrous incursion.  Within a mile of three client villages, the Miller is neutral ground, vital yet still apart.  The village priests rail against it's iniquity.  Everyone else enjoys the good beer brewed there.

Outside the Miller, a wooden sign directs those needing grain grinding to go around the back. Stone benches strategically placed near the entry provide a pleasant view for drinkers on warm evenings. Inside, the walls and floor are rough-hewn timber.  Decorative corn dollies are popular fixtures. The V-shaped bar-room bustles with activity.  Three serving maids tend benches seating twenty to thirty.  Local farm workers and artisans drink, game and sing.  A brindle-coated pet goat imperiously hunts for scraps. 

The Miller serves wheat beer in various forms. Two beers are ever-present: Amberfair, a limpid goldenrod mild wheat beer with hints of cloves and Stormcloud, a darker, stronger bock.  Other beers vary by season.
Spring: Goatbrace is an expensive, popular dopplebock of ridiculous strength with malt and chocolate tones.
Summer: Furst Ale is a pale wheat beer made with gorse tips.  Faint coconut scent and malty, nutty taste.
Autumn: Rascal is a pale tart raspberry lambic favoured by refined palates, quite weak yet refreshing.

Barleywine and raspberry wine is also available for those who don't enjoy beer. Drinks are reasonably priced with the exception of Goatbrace which is priced for the connoisseur.  The only food available is dark-crusted bread, a hard mild cheese and salt pork.  All are bought in so the prices for food are a bit higher than you'd expect (+20%).  Most people are here to drink in any event.

The bar staff are friendly locals hired by the current landlord Alnoir.  He bought the Miller after a protracted, violent feud with the previous owners.  This scandal soured ties with local village clerics.  Sharp-eyed, gaunt and energetic he works diligently to keep the Miller free from local politics.  His diminuitive wife Kailin brews prodigal amounts using halfling techniques.  The final permanent resident is the landlord's pet goat. The staff quietly encourage it's hunting for scraps and eating choice bits of clothing from helpless drunks.

Accommodation is not available here.  Those desperate enough work for floorspace in the store after carrying grain sacks to the grindstone.  The villages can provide shelter afrer a mile walk.  Alnoir is strongly against 'guests', directing them to clerics in the village, "I run a business".  A mill worker gang ejects those chancing their arm.  Violence has been known here. Regulars turn a blind eye while local clerics tend wounds and preach on hospitality after incidents.

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