Ancient Egyptian Beer
All, I came across a random article about kirin, of Japan, brewing an ancient egyptian beer recipe based on some hieroglyphic writings found in tombs. This made me want to recreate some crazy long gone ancient beer recipe.
here is what I found to date:
EGYPTIAN BEER EXPERIMENT
.Fac Quodlibet Vis/
This is a description of a very experimental beer that I brewed about
six months ago, in an a-historical attempt to recreate a beer using
ingredients that were (except for one very obvious exception) available
to the ancient Egyptians. The only archaeological authority I consulted
was the Roman author Diodorus Siculus, who described Egyptian beer.
1 lb barley flour
1 lb millet flour
2 cups corn sugar
Water to make dough
Step the first:
Mix a cup of corn sugar each with the barley flour and millet flour.
Mix in water enough to make a fairly thin, pourable dough with each, and
add the baker's yeast and knead or stir as best you can. This will not
rise far. After about 6-8 hours, pour the risen dough for each onto
greased cookie sheets and bake it until brown.
Then, take the barley and millet "bread", and cut it into
white-bread-slice sized squares, and toast each of them in a toaster.
Step the second:
2 gallons of water
One small bottle of "Beano", an anti-flatulence enzyme available from
most vegetarian grocery stores. For better or worse, Beano was
unavailable to the ancient Egyptians, who according to other ancient
authors suffered frequently from intestinal gas.
Boil 2 gallons of water from the Nile. When boiling, crumble all of the
squares of barley and millet bread toast into each of them.
Let the bread and water mixture set until it becomes just above room
temperature. Add the entire bottle of Beano to the mixture and allow it
to set overnight.
Step the third:
3 1/2 gallons of water
One 6" liquorice root
1/2 oz. anise seed
1/2 oz. herb rue (very optional - if bitterness desired)
4 pounds light barley malt extract
3 pounds honey
Four cups sorghum molasses syrup
Wine Yeast (I used Montrachet; Champagne might have been better.)
Strain the bits of bread out of the bread, water and Beano mixture you
made yesterday and bring the whole mess to a boil again. Give the bits
of bread to the birds.
Grate the liquorice root and reduce it into little pencil shaving sized
Put everything except the yeast and extra water into the water/bread
mixture. I let it boil for 45 minutes.
Pour the wort into the 3 1/2 gallons water. If you are using Nile water
boil all of the water first.
Pitch, ferment, prime, and bottle as you would a regular ale. This will
have a long fermentation.
The beer was cloudy. I suspect this was a natural consequence of
brewing with bread and Beano. Grain brewers may have more success if
they tried to mash the bread, or mash whole grains. Whole millet may be
available from feed stores as a bird seed. Just what you want to tell
your friends about what you put in this beer.
Diodorus Siculus's "Historical Library," book IV, chap. 2, and book V,
chap. 26, contains a description of the product of Egyptian breweries.
He relates that it was "nearly equal to wine in strength and flavour."
The product of this recipe may not reach quite that stature, but it
Hops, of course, were unknown to the peoples around the Mediterranean in
antiquity. Rue was a bitter herb that was available to them. I have
heard from another experimenter that tarragon also makes an interesting
addition to ancient beer styles.
Some models of daily life included in Egyptian tombs provide images of
brewers, usually combined with bakers. Apparently in Egypt, as in much
of the ancient world, brewing and baking were considered two aspects of
the same trade.
Any ideas or recommendations on a better "Ancient Egyptian" beer recipe would be greatly appreciated.
Where did the Egyptians get corn sugar or anything made of corn?
If you're interested in ancient beers...google (or search here) the Hymn to Nikasi, also Dogfish Head's Midas touch (brewed based on the food/drink remains found in Mida's Tomb...}
Also here's a link on the Gilgamesh Beer. http://www.maltosefalcons.com/recipes/20051002.php
I've posted a bunch of stuff on this topic throught HBT, some of the research I've found.
Seriously, though, there's images of what looks a heck of a lot like maize in some ancient Egyptian art, and references to something that sounds a lot like maize (cobs, husking, etc).
There's some serious scientific consideration that maize may have grown in the region thousands of years ago, but that climate change caused it to become no longer a viable crop, and it eventually died out. I've seen theories that claim that the Egyptians became powerful and wealthy through the production of wheat when the region became significantly drier and previously common grains were not viable crops.
There's also speculation of ocean-going trade between Africa and the America's thousands of years ago, trade which is responsible for THC, cocaine and nicotine being detected in mummies. (Of course, if true, these items would likely have been so expensive that only the richest would have ever been able to afford them, and they may have been part of religious practices)
so how did it taste? perhaps the beano should have been taken before consuming the beer rather than brewed in it? i guess ill just have to try the midas touch
I just started this recipe and made the bread yesterday (it was a sweet bread and my daughter loved it) and completed the first step. I did not use the Beano because no one I talked to at my beer supply store could tell me what it's purpose was. One person said to removes excess carbs but I figured if the Egyptians could deal with it, so could I. I am completing the rest of the brewing today. I have everything except the Rue. I have search every herb shop in the area with no luck. So far the only two option I could find are grow it or order it online ahead of time. Bad planning on my part. Two people said they didn't carry it because if it was not used/handled correclty it could cause issues.
I find myself becoming very interested in ancient drinks. I have seen quite a bit out there. If anyone wants to recommend a particularly tasty recipe they have tried, I'd appreciate it!
Beeno is an Alpha Galactosidase. It works like yeast does, only it breaks down kinds of sugars that traditional yeast can't. Adding Beano to your fermenter will break down oligosacarides (complex sugar molecules not fermentable by yeast) and produce glucose. Think of it as the China Syndrome of fermenting tools, it will keep breaking down stuff often until the beer is bone dry. It's sometimes used to fix TRUE stuck fermentations, or to bring huge beers that finish high even lower.
Some folks use it in making Chicha rather than chewing the corn and letting the saliva in our mouths break the starches and complex sugars in corn down into stuff easily eaten.
That's why it's being talked about in this old thread.
My Egyptian brew is in the first stage. I assume it's too late for the beano now?
I originally made 2 gallons
3 day in Primary and 4 in secondary (with one racking to get rid of 1/2 inch of sediment.
OG was 1.082
When I racked yesterday is tasted heavy of Sorghum Molasses and I am not crazy about the taste. It is very dark (think Stout) and cloudy with a very thick mouthfeel. I just added 1 crushed beano to each 1 gal to hopefully cut down on the sweetness. I have not used it before but the amount seemed appropriate. I was amazed on how fast it started working. It went from about 1 bubble every five minutes to about 2 bubbles a minutes after about a 10minutes rest. I look forward to tasting the difference Beano makes.
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