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In 280 BC a Gaulish tribe became stranded in a forest with no access to grains/potatoes/cultivated grapes. (Magic handwavy - no access to anybody else or land that isn't a forest). They have fresh water from a river.

The forest can be populated with any plants that might be found in Europe at that time. It has been 2000 years and technology has not changed much, although with magic they can heat or cool large volumes of liquid to precise temperatures.

What alcoholic beverages would they make? I am looking for something more creative than Cider/Mead. 2000 years is a long time.

For info:

  • They would have a good knowledge of Greek and Roman drinks (inc. wine, mead and cider)
  • They have are capable craftsmen
  • They have sources of metal tools/equipment if required - to Roman tech levels
  • The entirety of the drink has to come from plants found in mixed forests
  • The magical ability is rare and so only small quantities of drink can be produced if using that method.
  • A variety of drinks with different strengths would be a better answer
  • A very good answer would show some creativity in the different plant options availible.
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  • $\begingroup$ Wild grapes were plentiful enough to make some wine. Riparian grapes (non-domesticated) should be sufficient for the task. Potatoes are a new world crop, unavailable in Europe before the 1500s (not sure the exact date). $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Apr 19 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ It might be quicker to ask what fruits/grains/foodstuffs have not been made into alcohol by humans over the past 2000 years! Fermentation is not difficult and would be a well known process around 300BC, distillation is not technically complicated either and was recorded in multiple places in the early centuries AD; magic temperature control would certainly accelerate that. $\endgroup$
    – David258
    Apr 19 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ No potatoes? I certainly hope so. If these Gauls did have access to potatoes, it means they've wondered over to the Americas around 18-ish centuries before the rest of Europe saw this plant. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Apr 20 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ anything that is based on Sugar OR Starch can be made into booze, easily. Even Tree Sap. With a lot of effort, even cellulose fibers(wood!!) can be turned into booze. You just need to have your chemistry exactly right, else you make methanol instead of ethanol. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Apr 20 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ Artemisia absinthium will be their friend! It is widely used in the preparation of a number of alcoholic beverages (including Absinthe obviously). It will enrich the drinks others have posted in their answers. Aside flavouring and preparing bitters and vermouths it will double up in the preparation of medicines. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 21:50
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You can make "some sort" of alcoholic beverage with *anything" starchy or or having high sugar content.

Vodka is made from cereal.

You can make wine/cider with any kind of fruit.

Mead is essentially fermented honey.

You can make alcohol from refined sugar (an expensive way, but you can).

Distillation is only needed to concentrate alcohol above natural endurance of given yeast (about 20%). This technique was well known in Roman times, but was not applied to wine (they had very different tastes: usually they drank watered and sweetened wine; drinking it straight was for barbarians; no wonder they did not like superalcoholics).

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Potatoes, cereals and grapes are not the only sources for making alcoholic beverages.

Cider can be done by fermenting juices of apples, pears, blueberries and any other fruit which has enough sugar in it.

Even mixing honey with water and letting it fermenting can be used to make mead.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. They definitely knew about cider, but I was hoping for some more variety with different strengths that might be used for different events, from the day-to-day to special events. $\endgroup$
    – Hukk2010
    Apr 19 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ you can distill the fermented fruits and vegetables into stronger drinks $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    Apr 19 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ My understanding is that distillation was unknown to the Romans for another couple of hundred years. $\endgroup$
    – Hukk2010
    Apr 19 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ 1200 bce I believe is earliest en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillation#History $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    Apr 19 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ Not recorded in Europe until about 900 AD (thus a comment not an answer), but maybe you can take liberties with the timeline and include Birch and Maple sap drinks (beware commercial link). $\endgroup$ Apr 19 at 16:34
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List of things yo can make alcohol from.

In order of how easy it is to do.

Honey, I do this myself, breathtakingly easy.

Fruit, basically any fruit that tastes sweet will work, great way to use up unripe or overripe fruit.

starchy tubers, cook them first to detoxify.

Nuts, specifically chestnuts or any other very starchy nut. less starchy nuts like acorns can be used to make mild "beers"

tree sap, a lot of work though, you have to concentrate it first.

Some mushrooms can even be fermented.

Even artichokes, onions, and herbs like anise and cloves have been used.

If it has enough sugar in it, you can ferment it.

How much sugar there is in what you use is basically what determines how alcoholic the drink is. You can cut fermentation short to make it weaker which was common.

you can concentrate alcohol using freezing temperatures. Let it start to freeze fish out ice. This is how applejack was made from cider.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Can you be more specific about the tubers? What kind of drink does it make? $\endgroup$
    – Hukk2010
    Apr 22 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Hukk2010 Any starchy tuber, you mash them up and ferment them. Basically anything that is only fermented is a type of "wine" We don't really have a systematic naming convention for alcoholic drinks. Flavors will vary a lot depending on what you use and how far you let it ferment. Potatoes, manioc, yam, taro, beet, carrot, radish, there are thousands of tubers. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 22 at 14:16
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Acerum.

It is mysterious why the Amerinds did not ferment maple syrup into alcoholic beverages but apparently they did not. It can certainly be done!

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acerum

It was the natives of northeasternNorth America who developed the method of turning maple sap into syruplong before the arrival of the Europeans. Settlers in New France and New England quickly took up this technique and gradually improved it, especially since the mid-20th century, developing several products such as maple,maple sugar, maple butter,maple caramel and many others.

It was not until the 1970s that some producers began to produce alcohol from this syrup. Although some distilled alcohol tests were then conducted in university laboratories, it was not until the 1990s that some maple syrup producers began to produce a wine based on this sweet resource, which would eventually be called Acer.

Your people commune with "forest spirits" (get it? Forest spirits!) by tapping syrup and fermenting it into sweet liquor. Maple and similar sweet saps form the basis and they are flavored with other roots and leaves including birch, sassafras, gum and others.

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  • $\begingroup$ It takes a lot of work to concentrate sap enough to make something that ferments well. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 20 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @John - but the payoff is a lot better than other things which take comparable work! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 20 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ I just meant that's probably why they didn't do it. why go through all that work when there is plenty of fruit and honey around. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 20 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe they just did not much like alcoholic beverages. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 20 at 22:10
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Your forest has fruits, right?

Take a bit of
enter image description here

pulp it, boil it to kill the wrong bugs, seed it and ferment it. Then feed it through this monstrosity (3 times) enter image description here

and you make this:(sorry this image is the watered-down, legal variant. Images of the real thing are a bit troublesome to post)
enter image description here

Genuine, 190-proof (95% alcohol) Witblits. Suitable for drinking, and runs fine in your car engine if you add a drop of 2-stroke oil.

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  • $\begingroup$ Distillation is fairly advanced for the given tech level. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 20 at 21:52

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