2,500-year-old Celtic beer recipe revealed
Archaeologists studying a 2,500-year-old Celtic brewery have uncovered an ancient beer recipe.
Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 03:16 AM
Archaeologists in Germany may soon be able to booze on the same beer that ancient Celts once did, thanks to a new analysis from a 2,500-year-old brewery, according to Physorg.com.
The Iron Age beer recipe was discovered by Dr. Hans-Peter Stika, an archaeobotanist from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, while he was studying an ancient Celtic site at Eberdingen-Hochdorf that dates to the year 500 BC. At the site were six oblong ditches that contained thousands of grains of charred barley, which almost certainly would have been used for the production of high-quality barley malt for making beer.
Drawing from his knowledge of beer-making tools that Celtic people in the Iron Age might have used and clues left at the site, Stika inferred that the ditches were used to soak barley grains until they sprouted. Fires were probably then lit at either end of the ditch to slowly dry the sprouted grains. The finished product would have given the malt a dark color and smoky flavor, according to Stika's analysis.
Furthermore, the slow drying would have stimulated the growth of bacteria that caused the release of lactic acid, which would have added a sourness to the beer. The excavations also yielded seeds of a plant called stinking nightshade, which if added to the recipe would have made the beer more intoxicating.
Other ingredients added to the brew would likely have included mugwort and carrot seeds, popular spices of the time. The fermentation could have been produced by yeast on the brewing equipment, or possibly from wild yeast on honey or fruit added to the brew. Since hops wasn't used in beer until much later (not until around 800 AD), the flavors produced by these ingredients would have tasted much different than today's beer.
According to Stika, the final beer would have been drunk at room temperature and it would have appeared cloudy and with a yeasty sediment.
Although these findings are among the oldest beer recipes ever discovered, they are not actually the oldest. That title belongs to 5,500-year-old brewing facilities that have been found in the Middle East.