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Old 07-21-2008, 03:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jay075j View Post
alcohol could be used too.
Are you referring to spirits?
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:48 AM   #12
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I have read from numerous sources that the fermentation of grain was (possibly) the reason that homo-sapiens began the practice of grain cultivation, agriculture, and thus civilization.

Of course there is a lot of grey area in that assertion. I wouldn't say that early humans didn't understand "germ theory." They just understood it in a different way than we do today.

But regardless of the causes for agriculture (they are many and complex) why would we choose to substitute the easily spoilable beer for the stregnth and preservability of mead? I can't imagine that people went to great legnths to create something so unpalatable when there were clear alternatives that they were surely aware of.

On the surface it seems that even wine is more stable than beer, though that came later.

Perhaps there were deeper social reasons or spirtual reasons for the cultivation of grain for beer? Or is there some scientific explanation for it?

Beer is/has been historically recognized to be the oldest fermented beverage, even older than meads, ciders and wines...even though one could argue that the funeral drink found in the tomb of King Midas, and subsequently re-created by Dogfishead was a combination of what we would think of as Beer, Wine AND mead...So that does fuzz up a few things....

Not to mention the brewing of "beer" in ancient China, and Egypt, which I haven't got around to researching yet.

The most common theory is that grain was of course harvested and raised for bread. It was accidentally soaked...it sprouted ("malted" you might say) and as it sat in the liquid, wild yeast caused it ferment and some fool drank it and it made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside...

The earliest recorded recipe for beer is in the Hymn to Ninkasi;

Quote:
he Hymn to Ninkasi, inscribed on a nineteenth-century B.C. tablet, contains a recipe for Sumerian beer.)

Translation by Miguel Civil

Borne of the flowing water (...)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Borne of the flowing water (...)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,

Having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you,
Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you

Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake,
Ninkasi, Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

You are the one who handles the dough,
[and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, You are the one who handles
the dough, [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey.

You are the one who bakes the bappir
in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes
the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates.

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.
Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks
the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked
mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads
the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.

You are the one who holds with both hands
the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey and wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (...)
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)

The filtering vat, which makes
a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat,
which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer
of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the
filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.
It is also mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the 'wild man' Enkidu is given beer to drink. "...he ate until he was full, drank seven pitchers of beer, his heart grew light, his face glowed and he sang out with joy."

Also The Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi), the best preserved ancient law code has sections governing the brewing and trafficking of beer...

As to the "why's " besides the afore mentioned health, there is quite a tie in to religion and spirituality (again, probably because beer makes you warm and fuzzy inside.)

This is on my shelf and I've only begun skimming it.



My ex girlfriend was working on a book on Goddess ritual and found many more tie ins to beer and sacredness.....she was working on the arcane or spiritual meanings of the inclusion of the ingredients in certain of the beer recipes, like Ninkasi's and the Midas brew...taking the historian's "what was in it" and looking at the ritualistic "why" it was added...But since I'm ignoring her, I haven't a clue as to what more she discovered....Some of the info I shared on several threads here in the winter, some of her work, and some of mine....

As to what you said about Germ theory...yes there was some ancient wisdom /knowledge in those days, like I said they knew boiling water did something good though they didn't necessarily know "why." If you look at the old testament, many of the Jewish prohibition, such as those of on eating pork and shellfish, were for health reasons (though they were wrapped around mythology) without knowing about trichinosis, they knew that eating undercooked pork made people deathly ill....So they set up a prohibition against it...most of the Old Testament "laws" were actually based on rudimentary scientific/public health understandings...a lot of the understandings, thought they would be loathe to admit it, came from the Islamic Mystics and Alchemist...Who were later persecuted by the Jews and early Christians driven out of places like Spain.

BUT I still maintain that, what we would consider "modern" methods of sanitization and Preservation (like the IPA) came about through the work of Pasteur and Snow....and the Preservation of food (look up the history of canning) during Napoleon's time....

The common misconception though is that Brewing was a huge part of Early America...Even though people did make beer at home, according to Maureen Ogle it really was rare, Malt-able barley were not easy to come buy and too much emphasis on was placed on plants for survival...so it was more than likely that Ciders and Rum (fermented from Molases) was much more prevalent than beers...And Ben Frankin never said what we think he said about beer....

http://www.ambitiousbrew.com/
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:46 AM   #13
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I actually am familiar with the book "Sacred Herbal Healing Beers." If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it. I have an ongoing email dialogue with the author.

One Warning: It will definetly clash with some of the dogmas about the superiority of hops & modern brewing science, which many home-brewers adhere to.

And one correction to your previous email: From what I understand, mead is almost certainly the earliest fermented beverage. Mead pre-dated beer perhaps by as much or more than 30,000 years.

In fact, in my experience, adding honey to the boiling wort for beer is a good way to prevent the spoilage/souring the beer by bacteria, especially given the conditions which existed in the middle ages and before. Two reasons:

1) Honey is a natural anti-septic. Even when diluted by water, it slows or inhibits the growth of bacteria and molds.
2) Honey will raise the alcohol content of the brew, which also acts as an anti-septic.

One word of warning, though (speaking from experience). Honey can also serve as a major source of microbial contaminants, since it contains many wild bacterias and molds in a state of suspended animation, trapped in the honey. This isn't always a problem with straight mead, particularily when fermented strong (upwards of 12-15% ABV) but with a weak beer, some of them will begin to feed off the complex-carbs and protiens from the grain, souring the beer.

When using honey in beer, it is a good idea to make sure it is boiled for sufficient time to make sure all such organisms are killed. I usually try to minimize the boiling time with the honey, because I don't want to lose all the delicate floral aromas present in it, but I have learned my lesson the hard way on the contimants which it contains.

Unless you are fermenting something very strong, its is best not to take chances with the raw honey. But if you follow that simple rule (I usually add it 20 minutes before flame-out) adding honey to beer is a great way to add preservative quality to the beer.

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Old 07-22-2008, 10:03 AM   #14
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That's the great debate, which came first, mead vs beer. The Tale of the "Honeymoon" vs the Hymn to Nikasi

I lean obviously towards the beer side..

In order to make mead one has to gather the honey, integrate it with water to thin it out and then ferment it...Since to my knowledge you don't normally gather honey and mix it with water, (And I don't believe you can just put yeast on the honey and have it ferment, it has to be diluted somehow) whereas you could easily have a bowl of grain sitting there where it could get soaked and the resulting mash could get hit with wild yeast and spontaneously ferment.

I think it comes down to which was more apt to sponatneously ferment in it's storage environment.

And which was cultivated as a foodstuff first, grains or honey...

We'll never truly know. (I think Maureen Ogle was the one that said that the whole mead came first idea was just another way to steal beers thunder )

I've skimmed some of the recipe in the heaing beers book...let's just say that as a anthropology treatise it looks all well and good, but I don't think I will be doing many if any of his recipes.

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Old 07-22-2008, 06:56 PM   #15
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I don't think it needs to be a competition or debate over which came first. I have fermented all of the above (mead, wine, cider, & beer) and can appreciate the qualities of each one, though beer is my preffered drink of choice.

However, we have to be honest with ourselves. Brewing beer is a very complicated process. Making mead, wine, and cider, on the other hand, is considerably simpler. The sugars in honey and fruit are freely available and don't have to be converted and extracted through a long and labor-intensive malting, grinding, mashing, and lautering process.

The anthropological evidence for the brewing of mead dates back at least 40,000 years, while we know that barley was first domesticated in the fertile crescent roughly 10,000 years ago.

I'm not trying to knock beer. I like it.

Hey so back to the original topic of the thread...

Do you think that perhaps sulfur was used for santition in beer-brewing vessels, much as it has been used to kill off spoiling bacteria in winemaking for centuries?

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Old 07-22-2008, 07:05 PM   #16
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Speaking of the DFH Midas Touch, I just picked up some this past weekend. It's a really unique creation and combination of flavors. You can taste the malt, grapes and honey all at once.

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Old 07-22-2008, 07:16 PM   #17
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Speaking of the DFH Midas Touch, I just picked up some this past weekend. It's a really unique creation and combination of flavors. You can taste the malt, grapes and honey all at once.
I've put the clone recipe up a few times...It's on my "to brew" list that and the Maltose falcons take on the ninkasi beer. I was going to do them as for my ex's research...now I'll just brew them for fun, later.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:18 PM   #18
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That's the great debate, which came first, mead vs beer. The Tale of the "Honeymoon" vs the Hymn to Nikasi

I lean obviously towards the beer side..

In order to make mead one has to gather the honey, integrate it with water to thin it out and then ferment it...Since to my knowledge you don't normally gather honey and mix it with water, (And I don't believe you can just put yeast on the honey and have it ferment, it has to be diluted somehow) whereas you could easily have a bowl of grain sitting there where it could get soaked and the resulting mash could get hit with wild yeast and spontaneously ferment.

I think it comes down to which was more apt to sponatneously ferment in it's storage environment.

And which was cultivated as a foodstuff first, grains or honey...
Hmmm.... how would the starches have converted, though? Maybe someone cooking a porridge or something and leaving it out? Wet grain isn't going to make beer on its own.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:24 PM   #19
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Hmmm.... how would the starches have converted, though? Maybe someone cooking a porridge or something and leaving it out? Wet grain isn't going to make beer on its own.
If it was stored wet in an ceramic container where the ambient temp reached near mashing temps? In a warm climate perhaps? And open so wildyeasts took hold. I didn't make up the theory...And from what I've read it probably wasn't totally converted, just enough sugars in the starch for it to become somewhat alcoholic (like our BAP attempts.)

A not very appealing drink possibly, that's why I remarked earlier in this thread that the guy who guzzeled it for the first time had to be mildly retarded to begin with
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:14 PM   #20
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Beer was first dammnit.

Seriously though, beer history is amazing in itself. I too liked the DFH Midas Touch despite all of the bad reviews I had heard about it. The concept of brewing a beer that "might" have been similar to a several thousand year old drink is amazing. As for how beer came to be back then, I think the aliens probably had something to do with it, or zombies perhaps.

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