hist-brewing: ancient brewing

stencil etcs.ret at verizon.net
Wed Feb 17 14:21:15 PST 2010

On Wed, 17 Feb 2010 12:00:01 -0800, 
in hist-brewing Digest, Vol 30, Issue 4
Daniel Butler-Ehle wrote:

>[... ]  just 
>why they are collecting such cereal grains in the 
>first place, unless for beer, is beyond me.  Grain 
>into bread seems an awfully labor-intensive method 
>of getting food from plants, even in grasslands.)
Even in the earliest phases, before encampments had morphed into villages,
the techniques of meat preservation by sun, fire, and smoke would have been
extended to fruit, seeds, and roots.  Using rabbitfood to stretch out
"limestone soup" when game was scarce and the jerky had run out, would have
been an increasingly common expedient as people moved into the higher
latitudes.  And it would seem likely that stew/soup/broth would early on
have been developed by cooks whose childbearing had rendered them toothless.

>That grain softened by soaking is easier to turn into 
>something edible than hard grain is pretty obvious. 
>Then, even if it was not intentional, sprouting 
>surely would have occurred accidentally on occasion.
>The increased sweetness imparted by even the 
>ambient-temperature malting would be noticeable 
>(and probably desirable--but that's wild speculation 
>about ancient tastes on my part).
It's hard to imagine an anthropoid without a sweet tooth.  One factor that
meay be overlooked here is that, long generations before grain processing
technology permitted the industrial accidents of sprouting/malting and
simmering/mashing, people would have been aware of and appreciative of
alcoholic beverages.  Fortuitous vinting or  meadmaking requires only a
well-made collecting sack and a summer cloudburst.  

My guess then would be that brewing developed conjointly with, but not
dependent on, breadmaking.  Both would develop from the need to preserve and
process grain.  Both would be grounded in broths and porridges.  Brewing in
particular would receive scrutiny and analysis because of people's
familiarity with the aromas and other pleasures of fermentation.  My guess
would be that brewing was an established art long before some Mesopotamian
Michael Jackson got to gushing on about /beppir/.

gds,  stencil

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