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Old 09-22-2009, 11:39 PM   #1
ColonelForbin
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Default just had an interesting read about ergotized beer..

i read about it from the book Food of the Gods, written by Terenve McKenna


it talks about the cult of Eleusis and their ceremonies involving a very special beer. this all takes place around the year 415 B.C., then it goes on to say how they made ergotized beer brewed possibly from a strain of ergot fungus or more likely Claviceps paspali which preferentially infects barley and has a high portion of psychoactive ergot alkaloids. This Eleusis cult celebrated their rites with this epic hallucinoginc brew bringing them visions and enlightnment.


here is a little more background about the cult of eleusis stolen from wikipedia because it is an interesting read too.


The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance. These myths and mysteries, begun in the Mycenean period (c. 1600 BC) and lasting two thousand years, were a major festival during the Hellenic era, later spreading to Rome.The name of the town, Eleusís, is a variant of the noun έλευσις, éleusis, arrival.

The rites, ceremonies, and beliefs were kept secret, as initiation was believed to unite the worshipper with the gods and included promises of divine power and rewards in the afterlife.There are many paintings and pieces of pottery that depict various aspects of the Mysteries. Since the Mysteries involved visions and conjuring of an afterlife, some scholars believe that the power and longevity of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from psychedelic agents.


i figured most people on here have never heard of a brew like this so i thought i would share. also i would highly recommend McKenna's book if you are interested in these type of things.

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Old 09-23-2009, 12:17 AM   #2
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Basically this is what is alleged to caused the witch like behavior in the Salem witch trials.

Grain infected with these compounds might produce bad results for consumption.

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Old 09-23-2009, 12:38 AM   #3
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One of the main problems with brewing with psychoactive compounds is that often the hallucinogenic dose is very close the toxic dose...makes for a not fun party. I had a friend who's family accidentally cooked with Jimson weed and he had to take the whole family to the hospital because they were all hallucinating in the kitchen. Great read, though.
-Jefe-

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Old 09-23-2009, 12:55 AM   #4
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If you've ever seen or smelled rye or barley that's infected with ergot, the absolute last thing you'd imagine is consuming it in any fashion. Who the hell ever dreamed up brewing some ergot-infected grain?

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Old 09-23-2009, 12:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jim Karr View Post
Who the hell ever dreamed up brewing some ergot-infected grain?
Timothy Leary comes to mind...
-Me
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:08 AM   #6
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...Sure, I'll take a poke into this thread... (and wildly thread-jack, most likely...)

Leaving aside the danger of accidentally poisoning yourself with ergot, what I find very interesting is the role of alcoholic beverages (with or without hallucinatory substances) in leading people toward a perception of deep mysteries.*

To an extent, that's something I still believe in. I had what I consider a transformative experience with a small glass of Laphroig Scotch this past spring, where I felt my place in the world, and was content.

Truly good beers do this as well, I feel. You appreciate the natural ingredients in it - the grains, the water, the "alchemy" of the yeast. I suppose, what I'm thinking is, that we brewers are the alchemists of modern life, and because of that we have the chance to show our non-enthusiast friends what it's like to understand the magic of brewing - and of drinking. A time and a place for everything...

(*Not saying these mysteries are real, or valid, or not-real, or whatever; only referring to the human experience and perception of these.)

PS - I'm half-way through a 720ml bottle of a Belgian Brown made with maple, yams, spices, etc... so if this post is a little wacky, that's my excuse

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Old 09-23-2009, 03:00 AM   #7
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I would drink some right after a nice trip on LSD.

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Old 01-22-2012, 06:25 PM   #8
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Its pretty cool that after thousands of years of the Mysteries of Eleusis, that it comes down to home brewers being the ones to solve it. You could probably get a grant to do this.

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