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Author Topic: The reconstruction of Beer  (Read 841 times)

Sefiru

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The reconstruction of Beer
« on: April 12, 2018, 06:49:58 pm »
I found this article on CBC the other day, about some brewers who made beer according to a fourth-century Egyptian recipe. Unfortunately it doesn't go into detail, but I'm curious. And sad that they only made a small batch, because from the description, I think I'd enjoy drinking it.

Anyway, reconstruction: it's not just for religions. Anyone else know of any similar examples?

Jenett

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2018, 07:26:13 pm »
Anyway, reconstruction: it's not just for religions. Anyone else know of any similar examples?

Dogfish Head (based in Maryland) has done a run of historical beers - some of them have been limited editions, but Midas Touch is one of my go-to buys when I actually buy beer, and it's based on research from remenants in drinking vessels found in the tomb of King Midas, from about 2700 years ago. (It's described as a cross between beer, wine, and mead, which might be part of why I like it.)

There's an essay here about the research.
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Darkhawk

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2018, 07:34:15 pm »
Dogfish Head (based in Maryland) has done a run of historical beers - some of them have been limited editions, but Midas Touch is one of my go-to buys when I actually buy beer, and it's based on research from remenants in drinking vessels found in the tomb of King Midas, from about 2700 years ago. (It's described as a cross between beer, wine, and mead, which might be part of why I like it.)

I've had their Ta Henket (Egyptian historical) but didn't care for it so much.  Mind, their Chateau Jiahu is the one I was wandering around with at a summer ritual just randomly declaiming, "man.  THIS BEER" about.
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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2018, 12:52:25 am »
I found this article on CBC the other day, about some brewers who made beer according to a fourth-century Egyptian recipe. Unfortunately it doesn't go into detail, but I'm curious. And sad that they only made a small batch, because from the description, I think I'd enjoy drinking it.

Anyway, reconstruction: it's not just for religions. Anyone else know of any similar examples?
There is a magazine put out by the American Home Brewers Association called Zymurgy. They had an article within the last several years about making these traditional/historical bread beers. Very interesting. If you can’t get to it online. I may be able to find the issue if I still have it.

That said, I have seen articles and recipes over the years for historical or ancient beers.  The general opinion seems to be that it us possible to do them that way, but modern palates generally prefer modern beer.


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Sefiru

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2018, 06:13:48 pm »
modern palates generally prefer modern beer.


One of the reasons I'm curious is that I generally dislike modern beer.  :P

Darkhawk

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2018, 09:20:38 pm »
One of the reasons I'm curious is that I generally dislike modern beer.  :P

Too fucking much goddamn HOPS.
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Noctua

Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2018, 08:32:13 am »
Too fucking much goddamn HOPS.

So interestingly enough I just read a book about this topic a few months ago, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in herbs and/or alcohol: Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation by Stephen Harrod Buhner. He's got a load of historical beer recipes ("beer" used loosely to describe any fermentation that does not involve distilling), very few of which use hops, because hops was an additive that only became commonly used in beer after the Protestant reformation. Before that the herbs most commonly used in beer was a mixture called gruit, most commonly a combination of bog myrtle, mugwort, marsh rosemary, and yarrow among other herbs- each gruit-house had their own recipe. His argument (which he backs up with some pretty solid evidence) is that hops replaced gruit because many of the herbs in gruit had mild psychoactive effects that enhanced the inebriating power of the alcohol, which didn't stand well with the uptight Protestants so they pushed to replace it with hops, whose effects cause increased sleepiness and a dampening of the libido.


EnderDragonFire

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2018, 11:32:06 pm »
Too fucking much goddamn HOPS.

I agree. I never considered myself a beer person because all the beer I had access too, craft beer or corporate beer, was all way too bitter and hoppy for my taste.

I realized, while studying the history of beer in college (yes, that's an actual course), that hops were neither necessary for beer, nor used widely in beer before the late middle ages.
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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 01:56:28 am »
Too fucking much goddamn HOPS.
Omg YES!!!!  But, not in any beer I make. Effing IPA’s.


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Owl

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 01:57:50 am »
One of the reasons I'm curious is that I generally dislike modern beer.  :P
Which modern beer? Because there are many I wouldn’t want ever. But some I love.


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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 02:00:06 am »
I agree. I never considered myself a beer person because all the beer I had access too, craft beer or corporate beer, was all way too bitter and hoppy for my taste.

I realized, while studying the history of beer in college (yes, that's an actual course), that hops were neither necessary for beer, nor used widely in beer before the late middle ages.
And with modern techniques, hops are really only there for taste, so why always go overboard with them??!!


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Darkhawk

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2018, 01:45:57 pm »
And with modern techniques, hops are really only there for taste, so why always go overboard with them??!!

They're a preservative.  Overhopped canned beer can sit on the grocery shelves until the Apocalypse without going off.

And that is why cheapass canned lager is the way it is.
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EnderDragonFire

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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2018, 02:13:17 pm »
They're a preservative.  Overhopped canned beer can sit on the grocery shelves until the Apocalypse without going off.

They are, but with modern techniques they aren't really necessary for that purpose. Pasteurized lager that has been properly canned lasts plenty long enough to sell, and there are plenty of preservatives that are more effective than hops that don't have any taste.
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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2018, 07:18:38 pm »
And with modern techniques, hops are really only there for taste, so why always go overboard with them??!!

I've often suspected it's parallel to increasingly-spicy hot sauce: it's not necessarily about liking that much heat, or that much hops, as it is about competing, proving something by how much one can stand. Of course, there'll be folks who really do like that much heat, but IME those folks usually know a thing or several about different flavors of heat, and the distinction between particular sorts of heat enhancing the flavor of a dish, or just being hot - the same likely applies to hoppiness, or will develop out of this Hop Madness.

Sunflower, who likes hops (and spicy food), but not all the time, and not imbalancedly
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Re: The reconstruction of Beer
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2018, 07:33:42 pm »
I found this article on CBC the other day, about some brewers who made beer according to a fourth-century Egyptian recipe. Unfortunately it doesn't go into detail, but I'm curious. And sad that they only made a small batch, because from the description, I think I'd enjoy drinking it.

Anyway, reconstruction: it's not just for religions. Anyone else know of any similar examples?

Not wandering back that far, but one of my favorite breweries not too far from me is Brewery Becker.  The owner is a member of our homebrew club, and he does a lot of historic recipes.   The Vargdricka ale, a Scandinavian gruit, is on tap all the time (a favorite), and he likes to play around with historical British recipes (Victorian stouts, the precursors to porters, etc).  We're also bringing in Ron Pattinson in conjunction with the EMU Fermentation Science program to discuss 18th century British brewing later this month, which I'm super excited about.

In a delightful note, speaking about hops up the thread, our most recent meeting was focused on NEIPA and Becker made, in all defiance of everything, a pre-Prohibition NEIPA.  Yeah.  It was DELICIOUS.  Great smooth mouthfeel, rich and juicy, but not overly hoppy.  He's pretty great at using historical ingredients and recipes, and making up something like that on the fly.

Another thing I've been drinking a lot of lately is sahti, which is a historic Finnish beer that primarily uses juniper.  One of our members brews it (and spruce beers and various other recipes) on what he calls his historic brewing system (basically a giant copper kettle over a fire).  I love the rich flavors you seem to get from ingredients besides traditional hop and malt profiles.

On my list of things to do is historic beer making of my own using more herbal ingredients, and knowing me, as I've dedicated mead making to various deities of mine, I'm sure I'd dedicate my beer to whichever deity it seemed appropriate for as well.  Off the top of my head, if I'm working with herbs in anything, I am often talking with Airmid while I do so. 

This has me thinking I need to start thinking Greek though, and seeing what I could find reconstructed from that area of the world.  Besides wine, I'm curious about any beer history to be found or ingredients I think I could work into a mead.  (Yes, pomegranate mead for Hades and Persephone on the list)
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