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28 September 2001
5,000-year-old pub found on Orkney

Merryn Dineley, a historian from Manchester University, found there had been a 5000-year-old pub and brewery at Skara Brae in Orkney, Britain's best preserved neolithic village, after examining stone-lined drains running under some of the houses, along with evidence of a kiln for malting grain. Traces of cereal-based fermented alcohol have been found on a nearby site. "There's no doubt these neolithic people were fermenting alcohol from grain," she said. "In fact I think they were making barley malt for brewing before they thought about grinding up grain for bread."
      The neolithic ale has been scientifically recreated, complete with original farmyard flavours. It has been manufactured in clay pots bearing the traces of baked animal droppings. Mrs Dineley insists that the dung is an essential component of the original flavour. "It's quite delicious, actually," she claims, but the deadly nightshade, henbane and hemlock found in the original recipe had to be removed.
      Islander Andrew Appleby is one of the few to have sampled the stone-age beer. "So long as you don't expect it to resemble modern ales it is drinkable."

Source: The Independent (2 September 2001)

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