|23 July 2005
Ancient brew based on 9,000-year-old Chinese recipe
Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware (USA) has brewed another ancient beer, this time replicating one made in China about 9,000 years ago. The recent brew is to be sold as Chateau Jiahu, was served only in the brewery's restaurant-pub and special dinners but a larger batch may be brewed in the fall and eventually go into regular production.
The recipe for Chateau Jiahu included rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits. Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione started with a formula from archaeologists who derived it from the residues of pottery jars found in the late Stone Age village of Jiahu in northern China.
"We can't prove that an alcoholic beverage was definitely produced in the jars - the alcohol is gone - but it's not that difficult to infer," said Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.
Mike Gerhart, distillery manager at Dogfish Head's brewery in Milton, Delaware, led the Chateau Jiahu project. It presented particular challenges, including how the ancients began fermentation of the rice. The brewers could use a mold cake traditionally used in Chinese rice wines, or they could chew and spit the rice into a bowl and let the saliva enzymes go to work - a rustic East Asian technique.
Gerhart said the final product is hard to describe. "It wasn't a beer, it wasn't a mead, and it wasn't a wine or a cider. It was somewhere between all of them, in this gray area," he said.
Sources: Ananova, Realbeer.com (19 July 2005)
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