An old-school brewing kit and its 5,000 year old beer recipe

ancient beer funnel found in china

A Mijaya funnel discovered in the Central Plain of China was part of a 5,000-year-old brewing kit // Photo courtesy of Fulai Xing/Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology

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

Archaeologists uncovered ancient “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. 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.

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

For instance, the scientists found a pottery stove, likely used to break down carbohydrates to sugar. And the brewery’s underground location was important for both storing beer and controlling temperature.

The coolest part? The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. Residue was tested with ion chromatography to find out what the ancient beer was made of.

The results: a mix of fermented grains, including broomcorn millet, barley, and a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley. The recipe also called for tubers, which were added to sweeten and flavor the beer, the researchers write.

So what did this ancient beer taste like? Researcher Jiajing Wang, an archaeologist from Stanford University, guessed “it would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet.”

[h/t NPR]


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