hist-brewing: ergot, water (not ergot water)

Richard Richard at WowMe.com
Fri Jan 14 02:36:38 PST 2000

Well, I do know that the reason why wine was the drink of choice in those days was because the water was considered tainted by ergot since the rain washed the ergot into the water supply.  Since fruit drinks, milk etc. would spoil without refrigeration, wine was the best bet.  But I am curious as to whether lysergic acid could have even withstood the brewing process.  You mention that you thought it does.  I find that fascinating as it tends to suggest that beer may have been a drink enjoyed for more reasons then our working assumptions.  It also seems to suggest a reason for drinking beer before major battles and this draws a parallel to the consumption of unleavened bread at the last supper.
In the words of Spock, "Fascinating."

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----- Original Message ----- 
From: <isenhour at uiuc.edu>

> The only thing I can remember, and this is from a brewing history
> paper I wrote about 18 years ago, is that early greeks seem to have
> brewed with ergot infected grain, and the insinuation was that the
> brewing process removed (some,most?) of the indoles that caused
> vasoconstriction (that would result in the gangrene seen in
> St. Vitus's dance) and left some kind of psychoactive effect.  I
> believe that there was some greek society that did this and the only
> name I can remember is Elysian (sp) Mysteries or something like that.
> *I do NOT reccomend trying this at home*

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