Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beer and Archaeology . . . What a Combination

Those who are regular readers of this blog will know that in addition to my work as a biblical scholar I also dabble in archaeology and homebrewing. Not at the same time mind you. I am part of the team currently excavating at Tel-Gezer and I brew my own beer and occasionally teach a class to encourage others to do the same. (Disclaimer: The class is not offered as part of the seminary curriculum). Anyone who has worked in the hot sun excavating a site knows that you should not be drinking beer. It's water you need. 

Of course someone should have told that to some of the previous Gezer teams since we sometimes dig up empty bottles of Maccabee and other Israeli beers. But I won't mention any names. 

In any case, an archaeological dig in Cyprus discovered and rebuilt a brewing facility. And they are trying it out. Here is a bit from the article

In the summer of 2012 HARP ran an Experimental Archaeology Field School in the village of Kissonerga, Cyprus.  The Field School recreated an installation that was likely used for beer production in the Middle Bronze Age.  The original structure has been excavated as part of a research excavation run by Dr. Lindy Crewe of the University of Manchester since 2007.

The resulting beers were very different to the beer that we are accustomed to today, some of the batches had a slight acidic taste to them, which is more than likely due to the wild yeasts used to produce them.  Brewers yeast has been developed over the years in order to have a well controlled strain of yeast suitable for producing alcohol, however, the strains available back in the Bronze Age may not have been so reliable.  Wild yeasts cannot be as 'controlled' as modern brewers yeast and can produce differing results.  Whilst some of the beers produced had an acquired taste, the fig beer was a hit, and with a little tweaking to the recipe it may well prove to be an appropriate session ale!

You can read the whole article here. It is a very informative piece.  I hope there is a way that this beer can be sampled by others at some point. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I will be looking into HARP's work. I saw the post by BAR on FB and had been trying to open the Levant article, but one can only read the abstract unless they pay $39 for a download of the full article.