Tales from the past
In 1989, Fritz Maytag, owner of the Anchor
Brewery in the United States, decided to recreate the flavour of the early Sumerian beer
from 50 centuries before. He commissioned a bakery to produce 5,000 small loaves from the
raw barley flour with a little roatsed barley and malt. These were soaked in water at his
San Fransisco brewery, to make a mash. Honey and syrup of dates were added for flavouring.
"We started cooking it and it was a very eerie feeling, as though we were
rubbing the magic lamp," Maytag said later. The resulting cloudy, orange-red brew,
named "Ninkasi", after the Sumerian goddes of brewing, was served at brewers'
conference. Guest drank the beer from huge jugs through tubes, just as the Sumerians had
"It wasn't wonderful beer," admitted Mr. Maytag afterwards. "But it
In 1986, Scottish home-brew shop owner, Bruce
Williams, revived the ancient art of brewing fraoch or heather ale. First using the small
West Highland Brewery in Argyll in Scotland, and then the larger Maclay's Brewery in
Alloa, Williams tested different varieties of the wild heathers that color the highland
glens purple in late summer. He now produces batches of froach each flowering season. The
heather flowers and the leaves of the wild myrtle, gathered at the same time, give an
acidic, peaty brew with a poweful floral bouquet.
Scottish and Newcastle Breweries in Britain
produced Tutankhamon Ale at their pilot plant in Edinburgh in 1996. They used the findings
of Dr. Delwen Samuel, of Cambridge University's archaeology department. Her research on
3,000 year old dried remains of beer from Tell el Amarna and Deir el Medina, helped them
to brew a beer made from malted emmer wheat, and flavoured with coriander and juniper. The
husky emmer, which had not been cultivated in Egypt for over 2,000 years, had to be
grown specially in England. Only 1,000 bottles of the beer were produced. They were sold
at the London department store, Harrods for 50 pounds a bottle, the proceeds going towards
further research into Egyptian beer making.
If you are interested in more
information about the history of beer, take a look here.
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