An interesting article for a relaxed Sunday evening read: The Beer Archeologist on the Dogfish Head brewery, one of my favorite breweries. (Although, Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA is pretty amazing, if expensive.)
The article is on Prof. McGovern, who’s the archeologist behind the pretty amazing Midas’ Touch, and if you are into beer and science you’ll enjoy reading this.
The truest alcohol enthusiasts will try almost anything to conjure the libations of old. They’ll slaughter goats to fashion fresh wineskins, so the vintage takes on an authentically gamey taste. They’ll brew beer in dung-tempered pottery or boil it by dropping in hot rocks. The Anchor Steam Brewery, in San Francisco, once cribbed ingredients from a 4,000-year-old hymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian beer goddess.
“Dr. Pat,” as he’s known at Dogfish Head, is the world’s foremost expert on ancient fermented beverages, and he cracks long-forgotten recipes with chemistry, scouring ancient kegs and bottles for residue samples to scrutinize in the lab. He has identified the world’s oldest known barley beer (from Iran’s Zagros Mountains, dating to 3400 B.C.), the oldest grape wine (also from the Zagros, circa 5400 B.C.) and the earliest known booze of any kind, a Neolithic grog from China’s Yellow River Valley brewed some 9,000 years ago.
Frankly, this guy’s job is making me regret that I didn’t stay in academia.
(I don’t remember if I linked to an earlier article on Dogfish Head that was published in the New Yorker in 2008 called A Better Brew before, so — to be on the safe side — I’m linking to it again)