5,000-year-old Chinese beer replicated using ancient recipe

Remember the ancient Chinese beer discovery publicized last year? It was a notable discovery for multiple reasons, including shedding light on agriculture in China at the time and giving modern humans an ancient recipe used to create beer. Now students at Stanford University have set out to recreate that beer, doing so following along with the ancient recipe. Some of the resulting beer was described as less than desirable, but others were successful.

The beer recipe was discovered by Stanford archaeologist Li Liu and a team of researchers on the inside portion of a piece of pottery found in a Chinese cave. The recipe is one for making beer, but not the same kind of beer we enjoy today. Beer at the time in China contained unfiltered grains, and had different flavors — when successful, it was sweeter than the beers we know today.

Likewise, the creation process was unusual compared to today's methods, though there is a small similarity in the use of barley. Grains, of which things like multiple types were used, were malted in a container, where the seeds would be covered in water until they sprouted. From there, the seeds were crushed, then heated moderately for an hour in water, after which point fermentation took two weeks.

Things get unusual at the mastication stage of one creation method, though — the students had to chew a starchy tuber called manioc, then spit it into their beer concoction. After that step, the beer was boiled and then left to ferment. Students reported differing levels of success — some describe their beers as foul smelling, while others say the resulting product had a sweet, fruity scent and a flavor similar to modern alcoholic ciders.

SOURCE: Stanford University