hist-brewing: ancient ale

MadTaz1 at aol.com MadTaz1 at aol.com
Tue Feb 23 10:43:38 PST 2010

I think the wild yeasts might figure into this as they did in ancient and  
not so ancient winemaking!
In a message dated 2/23/2010 6:50:35 A.M. Central Standard Time,  
merryn at dineley.com writes:

Hello  all, I am still reading through the excellent posts that came as a 
reply  to my initial query about this! Thank you all very much indeed - I 
have  been delighted by the response. I aim to reply to individual points  
raised. However, I am still spending far too much time tussling with  
computers to get my papers and research on line and meeting other  
necessary deadlines.

I agree with most of what has been said   - except for the chewing grain 
bit. My investigations indicate that in  South America, when they make 
chicha, they cook the corn to a mush, then  they roll it into little 
balls and 'chew' it, ie roll it round their  mouths, then spit it out. I 
could be wrong, of course. Corn is too hard to  chew when raw, so is 
barley, or wheat for that matter. Teeth would break,  let's not go there!

I work at a Visitor Centre to a Neolithic tomb on  Orkney, Scotland - the 
Tomb of the Eagles. The tour guides there would  tell tales of Granny 
chewing at the barley, then spitting it out into a  pot to make the beer. 
It would have tourists shuddering in horror (some of  the tour guides 
there tell a very good tale). I do not advise chewing raw  barley..... 
the grains are tough as little stones! I did not damage my  teeth but 
imagine it could happen. As one contributor pointed out - there  is far 
more amylase released during germination, so that is the more  likely 

Finally, for this email anyway, I have recently had  a response from my 
ex Professor - who, ten years ago, refused to support  my funding bid to 
investigate the possible biomarkers/archaeobotanical  evidence for 
brewing ale in prehistory. Now he says they might have been  drinking 
'some kind of alcohol' There are some archaeologists out there  who 
reckon 'cider not ale' in the British neolithic. Cider made from  
crab-apples .....

.... what is it they say? One step forwards, two  steps backwards!

Thanks again for your informed, intelligent, erudite  and sometimes 
amusing comments on ancient malt and ale. I shall write more  to you 
later, bye for now, and Cheers!
Merryn  Dineley

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