The Barbarians Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe

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Antyllus, a Greek surgeon who lived in Rome in the second century, wrote about mixing brews with unripe sesame plant fruit or crushed earthworms and palm dates for "good and plentiful breast milk in women. Later on, medieval European medics came up with their own therapeutic libations: Hot ale was recommended for chest pains, "old ale" for lung disease and "new ale" for sleep problems. Welsh ale, mixed with various herbs and other fixings, was advised for several ailments.

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One recipe suggested rubbing "plain ale" into the scalp to get rid of lice. The Nordic cultures made grog, a complex hybrid beverage in which cereals and other ingredients were brewed together—wheat, rye or barley fermented with cranberries, lingonberries and honey. The concoction was then spiced up with herbs—bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper and birch tree resin—that likely had medicinal qualities, McGovern says.

Whether any of these things actually worked is still up for debate. Many of history's remedies have been lost due to "cultural collapse and destruction by natural and man-made calamities," says McGovern. But modern research into primordial medical remedies has been incredibly fruitful. For example, Egyptian and Greek texts mention willow tree bark, from which acetylsalicylic—more commonly known as aspirin—was eventually derived.

Locals of what is now Peru used the bark of some South American trees to treat malarial fever. Later, the bark's medicinal compound was isolated into quinine, which remained a staple for malaria care for over a century. Similarly, Native Americans steeped Canadian yew needles into a tea used as an arthritis treatment; researchers later discovered a compound in the tree's bark that eventually led to the cancer-fighting drug Taxol.

In addition, in the past decade several plant-based drugs have been introduced into modern medicine. To name just a few: Capsaicin, from Capsicum annuum a variety of pepper , is now used as a pain reliever, and galantamine, from Galanthus nivalis the pretty snowdrop flower that blooms in many spring gardens , is being used to treat Alzheimer's disease. Of course, not all early pharmaceuticals possessed the curative effects they were believed to have.

The Story of Beer and Its Origins

The goal is to investigate whether the remnants of antediluvian leftovers of beer and other bevvies gathered from the clay and metal jars buried in tombs next to kings, pharaohs and emperors possessed any anti-cancerous properties. As part of that project, McGovern investigated the medicinal properties of drops of liquid found in a bronze Chinese pot from the Shang dynasty, circa B.

Patrick McGovern, archaeological evidence suggests the first ancient beers emerged as far back as 2, years ago in Turkey, China, and Scandinavia. Here are a few modern interpretations:.

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  6. Midas Touch Dogfish Head 9. And Midas Touch, the first release, was a collaboration with Dr. Patrick McGovern based on archeological evidence found in Turkey.

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    According to legend, Ragnar, who carried on the family tradition of raiding and warring with factions across Europe, may have gone into battle against his own family members. Wari Off Color Brewing 4. In Southern Peru, scientists found evidence of brewing including a mill and boiling and fermenting vats. Wari, named for the culture that built the brewery, is made from Pilsner malt, honey malt, plus purple corn and molle berries from Peru. Mijiaya Lucky Envelope Brewing Gotlandsdricka Jester King Brewery 6.

    The final touch is an additional fermentation with wild yeast and souring bacteria. Feature by John W. View Comments. Previous: Where to Drink in Nashville, Tennessee. Tags: Avery Brewing Co. Your name or email address: Do you already have an account?


    No, create an account now. Includes bibliographical references p. BeerEuropeHistoryTo Brewing industryEuropeHistoryTo N45 It needs to be lled! I would like to thank warmly Bob Todd for hispatient and conscientious work supervising my thesis. Iain Hill, the brewmaster at the Yaletown brewpuband restaurant in Vancouver, has helped me in better understanding chemicaland technological aspects of brewing.

    The Barbarian's Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe / Edition 1

    Thank youalso to Robert Weir for his photography and Eleanor Andrew for her drawings. Richard Stoneman has kindly encouraged my work while the two anonymousreferees for this publication have made many improvements to my text,particularly in terms of my translations. I cannotneglect to thank heartily the staff at the resource sharing services ofce at theWalter C.

    Koerner Library, University of British Columbia, for their tirelessefforts in securing obscure works for my delectation.

    I would like to dedicate this book to my father, Ralph Nelson, who has alwaysproved to be a kind, generous, humble, moderate, and extremely wise teacher. I wish through this work to toast him with a pint of our foamy friend.

    The Barbarian's Beverage by Max Nelson

    Yet throughout the world pintsof ale and cans of lager are consumed with little thought of how such a beverage,made from malted cereals, hops, yeast, and water and sometimes otheringredients as well came to look and taste the way it does or even came to bethought of the way it does. It is my intention here to show that much of thiswas already formulated before AD, and not in Egypt or Mesopotamia, butquite independently in Europe. But before embarking on our examination ofthe history of beer in ancient Europe it is important rst to pause to understandwhat is meant by beer. Beer and other alcoholic beveragesIt was only during the course of the nineteenth century that it was discoveredthat yeast converts sugar into ethanol or ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, inthe process known as fermentation.

    As we will see, the ancients did not have a proper understanding of any of these four products yeast, sugar, ethanol, and carbon dioxide , although there is some evidence that at times it was knownthat yeast was necessary to make at least some intoxicating beverages. Theancients certainly did not know that sugar was the other essential ingredient;nevertheless, it is convenient for us to classify different types of fermentedbeverages of the ancients depending on the type of sugar which was to beconverted, whether it was from sugar cane sucrose , from milk lactose , fromfruits or honey fructose and glucose , or from cereals maltose.