Archaeologists and researchers in China have unearthed a room from between 3400-2900 BC that was being used for…….brewing! Pots, funnels and jugs were discovered in what is now the oldest brewery discovered in China; these receptacles show evidence of grains being damaged by malting and mashing. The room itself was underground to help with temperature control, providing a cooler location to brew without damaging the enzymes required for the fermentation process. This room was also used for storage of the finished product.
Testing of the residue revealed the recipe included broomcorn millet, barley, and Job’s tears (also called Chinese pearl barley). They also found that tubers were being used for sweetener and flavoring.This is also the earliest evidence of barley in China, with the mystery still being how and when it made it’s way there.
As to what the beer tasted like, Stanford archaeological researcher Jiajing Wang guessed “it would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet”.......go figure! The research paper can be found at Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
This reminds me of a classmate of mine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. He loved doing home brews, and during our time in school, he tried to incorporate different Chinese herbs into his brews to match the seasons we were in. Some of his beers were pretty good…..of course, there were some failures as well!