hist-brewing: ancient ale

Daniel Butler-Ehle dwbutler at mtu.edu
Tue Feb 23 19:11:14 PST 2010

Will Hanrott <w_hanrott at yahoo.co.uk> writes:
> Mr Butler-Ehle commented that Amylase is present in malted grain as well as saliva and 
> that the concentrations are considerably greater in the latter. 

I believe I said the opposite.

> Since salivary amylase works well at body temperature 

And malt amylase works well at soil temperature--that's how 
the grain gets its energy.  By the way, salivary amylase 
is also alpha-amylase.
> Merryn Dineley commented below that it wouldn't be wise to chew 
> grain. 

Chicha isn't made from corn/maize everywhere.  In some places, 
manioc root, which is quite chewable, is the main ingredient. 
(However, manioc must thoroughly washed--or even pounded to a 
pulp and then washed--or else it's toxic.)  Corn is generally 
cooked to soften it before chewing.  Still, Chicha women tend 
to develop very strong jaw muscles (and very worn teeth).

Dan Butler-Ehle

, and that can b

This is fair, if you assume that you're using the high dried grain that we're accustomed to. If, however, it was crushed and soaked first in a pestle (or grinding rock) then it might not cause you injury. 

I am still neither a biochemist nor an archaeologist. This thread has been very interesting and I hope that you'll take my comments in the vein that they are made.


--- On Tue, 23/2/10, Merryn Dineley <merryn at dineley.com> wrote:

> From: Merryn Dineley <merryn at dineley.com>
> Subject: hist-brewing: ancient ale
> To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
> Date: Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:50
> 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 
> method.
> 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
> http://independent.academia.edu/MerrynDineley
> _______________________________________________
> hist-brewing mailing list
> hist-brewing at pbm.com
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