Food: 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe discovered

(From NPR)

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China.

This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China.

It’s the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

For instance, the scientists found a pottery stove, which the ancient brewers would have heated to break down carbohydrates to sugar. And the brewery’s underground location was important for both storing beer and controlling temperature — too much heat can destroy the enzymes responsible for that carb-to-sugar conversion, explains Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the current research.

“All indications are that ancient peoples, [including those at this Chinese dig site], applied the same principles and techniques as brewers do today,” says McGovern, who is known as the “Indiana Jones” of ancient fermented beverages.

The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. The grains showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. Read More

 



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