Ancient Brew

It’s Miller time…in ancient Egypt?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

That beer’s been in the back of the fridge for months. You check the date – are we still using the Gregorian calendar? Doesn’t matter – still good! How?!

Archeologist Mohamed Farag from Cairo University and colleagues dug into it. In the prehistoric city of Hierakonpolis, Egypt, the team discovered five large ceramic vats. Inside? Five-thousand year old BEER residue! HOW did the gunk survive so long?

To get the recipe, Farag used gas chromatography to analyze ingredients. Turns out the Egyptians had mastered the fermentation process! Analysis revealed a beer made from wheat, with dates added for sweetness and flavor. Plus, a secret ingredient used as a preservative – barley! 

According to Farag’s calculations, the Egyptian vats could store six-hundred and fifty modern-day pints. He believes we can learn from these primitive preservation methods.

So, crack open a cold one, and to the ancient Egyptians, CHEERS where everyone knows your name (Tutankhamun)!

Reference: Farag, M. A., Elmassry, M. M., Baba, M., & Friedman, R. (2019). Revealing the constituents of Egypt’s oldest beer using infrared and mass spectrometry. Scientific reports9(1), 16199.