Vintners', Distillers' and Brewers' Guild
This guild has only 44 members, but it produces a prodigious amount of drink for Waterdhavians and for export. Guild members annually turn out thousands upon thousands of barrels of wine, beer, and various liquors, including the distinctive zzar: a Waterdhavian fortified wine that is fiery, orange, slightly almond flavored, and equivalent to sherry. The Vintners' guildsmen are the absolute masters of creating zzar, though many of the vintner Houses have tried to pry that guild secret from the guildsmen in times past.
The Master is careful to keep membership low so competition does not hurt guild members. This is a difficult guild to join; years of apprenticeship to a member are necessary (or outstanding credentials in other brewing guilds around the Realms). Waterdhavian nobles and those connected to them are never permitted entry.
For a long time, there has been something of an informal "split" between the guild and those Houses that produce drink. The guild has produced "everyman's tipple," those drinks of quality and price range that make them the drinks purchased at myriad inns and taverns, while the "vintner Houses" (Houses Amcathra, Ammakyl, Melshimber, Rosznar and Thann) produced extremely fine wines for refined palates and heavy purses. Over the last generation or so, that has changed, with guildsmen interested in the art of producing truly exceptional wines, and the Houses finding a market in inns and taverns for their less-refined vintages.
The guild has also gone a long way towards standardizing sizes of alcohol for sale:
- Jacks are large drinking horns sealed with wax, usually purchased for a household's consumption
- Bottles are ceramic or glass, with wax-sealed corks; they are about the equivalent of a jack in volume, but inevitable are for finer brews
- Small Keys are small hand-kegs of 2 gallons; about 10 lbs, 12" long and 8" across
- Casks hold 12 gallons; about 2' long and 18" across
- Barrels hold 30 gallons and are the most common containers for shipping; 3-5' long, 2-3' across
- Butts are 100 gallon barrels; 6-7' long and 3-5' across
- Tuns are the massive 250 gallon barrels usually set directly into the walls of a taproom, with taps driven directly into the tun; 8-10' long and 6-7' across