Hark! Pray parlay, stranger! We’re pairing another class and beer this week. We’ve worked our way all the way up to paladin. It’s the class most likely to be lawful stupid. Although paladins have a reputation for being stuck up holy warriors, they’ve been known to sink a tankard or two. As always, I have licensed cicerone Jessica Clare to give me her expert opinion.
So Jess, what’s your take?
Jess: Paladins have always struck me as the most evangelical of the religious D&D classes, and in beer, there is absolutely no one more evangelical than the older homebrewer crowd. These are the folks who will talk down to their friends and family for drinking a Corona, who only buy Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or bring a cooler full of their latest unpalatable attempt at an amber ale to the BBQ because “no one is making real beer anymore.”
Me: Wow, this already feels extremely on the nose. Tell me more about the backyard crusade they’ve been waging.
Jess: In beer, the biggest perceived evil is “big beer,” the folks behind Budweiser or Miller or most of the brands you see in a grocery store, and the old school homebrewer / craft beer drinker definitely sees himself as helping wage a war on the evils of big beer by criticizing everyone’s taste in beer. However, he also hates change and all of these crazy new things breweries are trying these days, so he’ll sit back and sip his Sierra Nevada Pale Ale thank you. Definitely worships Cascade hops and crystal malt, two ingredients that basically no one uses anymore.
Me: Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting that uncanny chill because this all feels so spot on. Every paladin I know (and I know some, believe me) wants to get their hands on the perfect paladin weapon- The Holy Avenger. In the context of your old school, homebrew person, what is the platonic ideal for an IPA?
Jess: Has to be Pliny. Preferably the Younger, but the Elder works as well. No question.
Me: For those who don’t know, Pliny the Elder is a double IPA made by Russian River Brewing Company in Guerneville, CA. It basically gets voted first or second place by the Homebrewers Association every year. Pliny the Younger is a triple IPA variant that they brew and distribute on an extremely selective basis, so it always makes waves whenever it’s available. And, dang it, this feels like another bullseye comparison.
Me: Paladins get an ability in 5e called Divine Smite that lets them deal some extra damage. I’m stretching the simile cortex of my brain, and it’s sort of like a shot with a beer back. Is there any respectable paladin-like way to have a boilermaker or a beer chaser?
Jess: Shot with a beer back sounds like an appropriate beverage equivalent of Divine Smite. Sierra Nevada Pale and Jim Beam immediately comes to mind as a combo that I’ve had before and boy did it help deal some extra damage.
Me: So if you’re playing a paladin, consider naming your summoned steed Jim Beam.
One of the paladin’s more unique features is their ability to resist disease and illness. Has there ever been a beer health tonic or are you aware of any ailments beer helps with?
Jess: Calling a beer a health tonic is actually illegal, and morally tricky territory because no matter what you put in a beer it’s still booze and booze will never be GOOD for you. However! There was a period of time not that long ago when water was filthy and unsanitary, and drinking it was highly likely to lead to illness. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but beer actually rose in popularity because it was a safer alternative to water. Thanks to the antimicrobial properties of hops and the fact that the water used in brewing beer is boiled, you’re much more likely to drink water that will poison you than beer that will poison you.
Me: What about in our world when paladins went crusading, what sort of beer would they have brought with them?
Jess: Beer and the Crusades actually have a shared history. Taxes from beer production helped fund the Crusades, and beer was listed on Crusade supply lists. Hopped beer didn’t start gaining popularity until around the 13th Century, so crusaders were drinking gruits back in those days. Think beers that are a little sour and spiced with a mildly mysterious mix of spices, including bog myrtle, yarrow, gale, and who knows what else. Churches tended to have a monopoly on the mix of gruit spices as selling these spice blends was a means of taxation on local brewers, and they weren’t super forthcoming about the recipes, so we aren’t 100% sure what these old gruits tasted like.
Me: Make a note of that, DMs. Your next quest could be to locate a paladin order’s lost gruit recipe. Players, your next paladin should carry the heavy burden of keeping his order’s secret blend of herbs and spices from falling into evil hands.
If you wanna catch up on the rest of the series: