This time, I deliver to you a story after the final chapter of volume 3.
This is a story of what happens to Ritz’s family after his problematic father is added to the fray. I hope you enjoy it.
I was at the table with my Parents, Sieg and Arno.
Everyone was talking with serious expressions. The topic was about this village’s specialty.
Father noted that there were reindeer meat, many different kinds of berries and handicrafts like kuksas among many other things, yet there wasn’t any food or good that could represent the place.
“For tourists, specialty goods are attractive, you see.”
Father’s critique was sharp and accurate.
I’ve been working to try and increase the number of tourists, but they never increased to more than the year Sieg came here.
In hindsight, goods similar to things such as reindeer meat, berries and handicrafts are found in other nearby villages.
We started getting somewhere with the eagle symbol on the kuksas, but that didn’t feel like much.
Then, what would be good? We gathered to discuss that.
I gathered up the village’s produce I had in the house.
Reindeer meet, berry juice, jam, alcohol, handicrafts with eagle marks, linen, wooden bears, honey, documents on ‘The Crimson Eagle’, etc.
We couldn’t really think of a bright idea.
Amidst the silence, Arno gave his opinion.
“Right, bears, that might be nice.”
There’s the mascot character Teoporon (?) so it might become the attraction of the village.
Maybe a corner called ‘Meet White Bear-san’ for children…… Well, there aren’t many children coming here on tours though.
“So, in the end, we need something for adults……”
Sieg murmured something about alcohol.
There’s berry wine in other villages and ours isn’t much of a specialty that’s different from others.
While I was pondering with a frown on my face, mother made a suggestion.
“Ritchan, how about honey beer?”
I see, beer!
If it’s honey, it would be made into mead, but those are made easily in homes so they won’t attract much attention.
Beer is nice and loved by both men and women. Moreover, ‘honey beer’ sounds pretty nice.
There shouldn’t any problems with the honey, I thought. A lot was gathered just this year. Next year, I want to add more hives so that we could get more honey for selling and making alcohol.
“The problem is how to make it, but maybe the procedure is written in one of the books in grandfather’s library?”
“Haru-kun, if it’s beer, I can tell you how~”
I ended up getting surprised at father. He said that he only read it and hadn’t actually made it, but that he clearly remembers the ingredients and the procedure.
What a dependable father. I was moved a bit.
“Beer, as its name suggests, is alcohol made using fermented barley, and the process is accelerated through adding sugar.”
The main ingredients are malted barley, hops, yeast, water and sugar. Other than hop, the ingredients for the drink can be gathered in this village.
Father told me that honey beer can be made by using honey instead of sugar.
“Why don’t we try making some samples. Dad, can you help me?”
For now, the candidate for our special produce is decided.
If and when the honey beer is completed, I’m planning on using the white bear and honey mother drew for the packaging.
My first work together with father began.
“Malted barley is, like how it sounds, germinated barley~”
First, barley is soaked in water.
Even though it sprouts, it sounds like the appearance isn’t different form normal barley.
“As you can see, it’s not to be sprouted fully, but budding barely above the surface.”
It’s ready once the malted barley is slightly plump. If there are any roots protruding, they are removed.
After that, they are dried in sunlight.
Once the barley is completely dried, they are then toasted in pots. It seems like they are ready once cracking sounds are heard.
“Next, we smash the malted barley.”
The toasted barley are placed in a clean bag, then pounded using a board and a wooden stick.
After that, he told me that we have to boil them.
“We will mash the barley in a pot for a while, but be careful to not let the temperature drop.”
Three hours after putting the barley in the pot. I sometimes stirred the stew so that it would boil well.
The finished thing is filtered using cloth then further squeezed with hotter water. This squeezed mixture is called wort.
Into this wort, hop for bitter flavour and honey for accelerating the process is added, then it’s boiled.
The mixture and water is put into a disinfected bottle. Since it seems like they all need to be cooled, I drew some water from the well.
Once it cooled sufficiently, I put in some yeast.
A few hours later, there were foams forming. Looks like the process is properly going.
After a week, the foams stop, after which the liquid is poured into a different bottle.
Here, more honey is put in.
It is finished after about a month of leaving it in a dark place.
“Haru-kun, it’s finally finished.”
“Yeah, that was long……”
Summer was over, and the season was completely in autumn.
We took out the honey beer that was left in a cool place. First, father and I need to test it.
I wanted to check the shade, so I poured some into a transparent glass cup.
With fizzing sounds, small bubble popped.
I was imagining a beautiful amber shade, but the beer had an ochre shade, should I say? It had a really complicated shade.
“Ah~ it’s murky after all.”
“Protein’s probably the reason why.”
“That can’t be~~”
It seems like an agent called carrageenan is needed. He said that it’s not sold in these areas.
“Carrageenan comes from seaweeds from southern countries~”
Well, the appearance doesn’t matter. What’s important is the taste.
I gulped from nervousness. Father was going to have the first taste.
He had the usual carefree smile, so I couldn’t tell if it was good or not.
Looks like I need to check it myself.
I mustered up courage and took a sip.
After the beer passed down my throat, I let out a voice of surprise.
What should I say — it was very bitter.
“Looks like we used too much hop.”
“It’s cold, so the bitter taste is sharp……”
However, there was a soft aftertaste of honey. A flowery scent lingered too.
This isn’t too bad. It was a taste that could be perfected after some effort.
Father put in some honey and lemon into the glass. After saying that it shouldn’t be as bitter, he handed me the drink.
“Ah, this is nice!”
Because there was additional honey, the taste was mild and it went well with the refreshing flavour of the lemon.
I gulped it down in a blink.
“Well, it needs improvement, though.”
“Still, this is very nice, dad.”
“Then that’s nice.”
After saying that, he smiled happily.
I wonder if this is father’s real smile. I stared at him.
At night, Sieg tried some honey beer too.
After Arno was born, she didn’t have much alcohol, so this will be a drinking party after a long time.
“So it’s finally finished?”
“Yes, am I not amazing?”
I wanted to be complimented by her so I appealed how I did many things.
When I leaned against her shoulder, she stroked my head, saying, “You did well.”
Yes, I’m trying my best every day for this.
And for my wife who is also working hard every day, I poured some honey beer for her.
“Would like some honey and lemon?”
“No, I want to try it on its own first.”
It was rather bitter, but Sieg drank it all without batting an eyebrow.
“How is it?”
“Aa. Of course, it tastes a little bitter, but there’s also the sweet flavour of honey, so it’s good.”
I’m planning on having other people taste it and make changes to it.
As the two of us were enjoying beer, I noticed a small change in Sieg.
Her face was red, which was a rare thing.
“Huh, could it be, from alcohol?”
“……Maybe. I feel a little lightheaded.”
Maybe it’s because I drank after a long time, Sieglinde murmured.
Want me lend a shoulder? When I asked so, she gently leaned against me.
“My face is hot.”
When I touched her cheek, it was hot.
“Ritz, your hand is nice and cool.”
While saying that, she entrusted her weight to me.
“……I feel a little sleepy now.”
“It’s okay if you sleep. I’ll carry you to the bed.”
Drunk Sieg is very cute and I feel happy that she’s relying on me like this.
Crackling sounds of wood burning came from the fireplace.
Before I realised it, Sieg really fell asleep.
Since she always sleeps later and wakes up earlier than me, her sleeping face is valuable.
I enjoyed the quiet night for a while like that.