Beer has been around for centuries—lots of world cultures have developed some variation on fermented grain and water. But the brews our distant forefathers drank were probably a lot different than the ones we drink now.
While the ale that was enjoyed centuries before the birth of Julius Caesar may have been tastier than other beverage choices of the day, it was still incredibly sour, with a flavor closer to vinegar than Hefeweizen. That’s according to a team of University of Chicago archaeologists and brewers from the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Using a 5,000-year-old beer recipe outlined in “Hymn to Ninkasi,” an ode to the Sumerian goddess of beer, they brewed up a batch of era-appropriate beer. To help ensure authenticity, they even used recreations of ancient wooden tools and ceramic fermentation pots based on artifacts found in Iraq in the 1930s, malted the barley on a roof, and hired a baker in Cleveland to prepare the bappir (“beer bread”) they used as the source of their yeast. And they heated the beer during the brewing process the old fashioned way: over a manure-fueled fire.