Lately I’ve been learning how to make bread. Not put the ingredients into a bread machine and hit the “run” button, but good old fashioned bread by hand. Some call it ‘artisnal’ bread, I call it freaking hard as hell. Brewing beer is easier!
But there is something about learning it the old way, like a craftsman would. Hard work, trial and error, lots of frustration. One day I’ll make the best loave of bread by hand ever.
This bread endeavor has gotten me interested in understanding old beer making crafts too. Beer has been around for 1,000’s of years and I never really thought about what kind of beer the ancients drank, until now.
An ancient Chinese beer recipe brewed 5,000 years ago calls for some unusual ingredients by today’s standards: barley, broomcorn millets and Job’s tears, as well as bits of bulbous root vegetables such as snake gourd root, yam and lily.
5,000 years ago dates back roughly to the Neolithic Age for China, and right before the Bronze Age. What I found particularly interesting about this article was this:
The team members were surprised that the beer contained barley, Wang said. In China, barley would not become a staple crop for another 3,000 years. via LaTimes
Yup, the barely was exclusively used to make beer. The ancient Chinese purposely made beer.
Next check out this video.
“It is often presumed that the beer they drank was very gross or unpalatable because we want to presume that they’re just dumb and don’t know any better.”
Luckily, through ancient written texts we can recreate some of these old beers and try them at home.
In case you want to try some modern adaptations of ‘older beers’, not necessarily ancient, then check out this Men’s Journal list of beers.