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1/24/2016

Druckversion - Prehistoric Breweries in Ireland? Beer From the Bronze Age - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International

12/31/200704:14PM

PrehistoricBreweriesinIreland?

BeerFromtheBronzeAge
ByAngelikaFranz
TwoIrisharchaeologistshavetriedtobrewbeerliketheirancestorsusedtomake3,000
yearsagoinanefforttouncoverthepurposeofcommon,ancientstonemounds.
Itwasaroughmorning.HungoverafteranightoutinGalway,archaeologistBillyQuinnwasnursinga
headacheoveraheartyIrishbreakfast,ponderingthemysteriesofhisexcavationsiteandthinkingwith
ameasureofselfinterestaboutmankind'sageoldquestformindalteringsubstances.
Thenithithim:Hisexcavationsitewasabrewery.
Theperfectlyordinarysitewasaflat,grasscoveredearthmoundknowninGaelicasafulachtfiadh(full
octfiah).Thesesitestypicallyhaveadepressionsurroundedbyahorseshoecrescentofcharredstones.
Archaeologistshaveturnedup4,500sofaracrossIreland,andmoreareidentifiedeveryyear.
Radiocarbondatingsuggestsmostfulachfiadhwerebuiltbetween1,500and500BC.
Themoundshavebeenalongstandingriddle.Someexpertsarguetheywereforcookingmeat:Hot
stoneswouldhavebeenusedtoboilwatertocookandpreservethemeat.Otherssaytheywere
prehistoricsaunas.Ortanneries,orsmithies,ordyeworks.Theonlypointofagreementisthatwater
washeatedinside.
QuinnandhiscolleagueDeclanMoorebecameconvincedtheirsitehadamorethirstquenchingpurpose:
brewing."It'salsopossiblethatthesitecouldhavebeenmultifunctionalsortofaBronzeAgekitchen
sink."
Buttheyneededproof.Theresearchwastough,butsomeonehadtodoit:QuinnandMoorewentona
pilgrimagetoplacesconnectedwitholdtraditionsofbrewing.Theyapprenticedthemselvestohobby
brewersintheOrkneyIslands.InBelgiumandBavariatheylearnedtobrewwithhotstones.In
Barcelona,theyvisitedaconferenceonprehistoricbrewing,andtheytracedtherootsofbeerculturein
theMiddleEast.
Earlythissummer,theywereready.AcrowdgatheredinQuinn'sbackyardinCordarragh,Ireland.The
archaeologistsslaughteredapigbrewingworksupanappetiteandbuiltaroaringbonfiretoheat
stones.Nearbytheydugatrenchandplaceda350literwoodentroughinside.Aftertwohours,the
stones(andthepig)werepipinghot.Thearchaeologistsshoveledthemintothewateruntilitwasa
steaming150degreesF.Theninwentthebarley.After45minutesofstirringandtheoccasionaladdition
ofanotherhotstone,theythrewinsweetherbs."Togetapleasanttastewejustlookedaroundthe
gardenandpickedwhateverlookedgood,"Quinnsaysofhisnotsoscientificmethod.Bayberryand
meadowsweetwereamongtheherbsthrownintothemix.Thenthebrewwaspouredinto75literplastic
tubs,someyeastwasthrownin,andthebeerresearcherssatbackandwaited.
Threedayslater,thepaircrackedopenthebarrelstoreveala"verytasty,foamy,coppercoloredale,"
saysQuinn.Totestthebrew,QuinnandMoorethrewaparty.Guestsjudgedtheexperimentasuccess,
saysQuinn:"Peopledrankitbytheliter."
Today,thearchaeologistsareproudtobecalled"picobrewers,"thedesignationforbrewerswhose
capacityfallssomewherebetweenhomebrewingandamicrobrewery.Unfortunately,theirbeginner's
luckdidn'thold.Eachsubsequentattemptresultedinaworsetastingmess.Quinndoesn'tblamehimself
buttheingredientsinhisgarden,whichfadedandlosttheirflavorasthesummerworeon."Bythe
fourthtrythebrewwasjustablandcloudybroth,"saysQuinn.
Nowthey'rewaitinguntilspring,whenbayberryandmeadowsweetarebackinbloom.Inthemeantime,
they'rebackattheirdayjobs.'We'reexcavatingbonesagain,"Quinnsays."It'sprettyboring."
URL:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/prehistoric-breweries-in-ireland-beer-from-the-bronze-age-a-524436-druck.html

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1/24/2016

Druckversion - Prehistoric Breweries in Ireland? Beer From the Bronze Age - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/prehistoricbreweriesinirelandbeerfromthebronzeage
a524436.html
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PhotoGallery:PartyLikeIt's1,500BC
http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/photogallerypartylikeits1500bcfotostrecke27697.html

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