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Old 10-28-2009, 01:44 AM   #1
jlanier01
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Default Did ancient cultures drink infected beer?

I know this is a loaded question, but I've been reading up a bit on the history of beer, and never have I found one ancient culture that expressed the need for a sanitized beer making environment.

Are we being overly anal about sanitizing equipment or is a drop of unsterilized tap water, really able to ruin a 5 gal. batch of wort?

How did Vikings, Sumerians and ancient Iranians sanitize their equipment? If you have made beer outdoors, or in a shack or dirty old garage I want to hear from you.

Thanks,
J

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Old 10-28-2009, 01:48 AM   #2
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Well, I am sure sanitary practices weren't the greatest but beer generally wasn't a leisure beverage like it is today. It was brewed because it was safer than water so perhaps taste wasn't a top priority.

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Old 10-28-2009, 01:52 AM   #3
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Bacteria didn't exist until the US government created it to kill off all of the minorities.

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Old 10-28-2009, 01:54 AM   #4
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Seriously, most of the bacteria that is around now wasn't around back then. 300 years ago even, there weren't half the problems out there that there are now.

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Old 10-28-2009, 01:57 AM   #5
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Well, I am sure sanitary practices weren't the greatest but beer generally wasn't a leisure beverage like it is today. It was brewed because it was safer than water so perhaps taste wasn't a top priority.
You probably haven't tried Midas TOuch or any of the historic recreation brews based on the evidence left behind..they were pretty damn good.

This idea that somehow the beer of ancient times was somehow worse than ours is today always rankles me...it's like the ethnocentric bias, or cultural relativism that led to the native people of this world being sent away to schools to have the culture ripped from them. That somehow their religion, their ideas, their language, their beliefs were somehow "sub par."

And despite the doomsayers who say that ancient beer was consumed young because it would go bad, they forget the fact that most of those beers were usually HOPLESS, and that the biggest reason hops were placed in beers was for it's antisceptic/preservative function.

Or that it was somehow "sub par" compared to today.

So even if the beer had to be consumed young, it still must have tasted good enough to those folks most of the time to survive culturally for 4,000 years, and not go the way of pepsi clear or new coke. I'm sure even a few hundred or thousands of years ago, people were discerning enough to know if something tasted good or nasty...

I hate when people make that argue....because we humans, no matter whether it was 40 million years ago, or yesterday, can choose what they like and dislike. And the stuff that we dislike, often dissapears from our awareness and our culture.

So I'm sure that King Midas wasn't drinking bongwater....we know that his food in the temple was pretty damn good (most middle eastern food that we eat today hasn't changed much since the time of the ancient islamic people, or Jewish people, or Spanish, or Italian or Greek, or any culture that traces itself back to ancient times even.)

SO if their food managed to taste damn good, do you really think that their chosen drink would taste like infected a$$?


Go read the argument/discussion here...http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/sani...ld-days-73146/

BUT...That doesn't mean that our beer can't be BETTER with the simple action of sanitization.....It means that we increase the odds of it being great..and more importantly lasting longer before going bad...That's a bigger factor...most beers in ancient times were consumed young...it wasn;t until Colonization by England that beers were thought in terms of aging or long travels (such as IPAs)

I'm really not sure what your motive is, jlanier01, a rationalization to cut corners in your process? Or just curiosity?
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dougan View Post
Bacteria didn't exist until the US government created it to kill off all of the minorities.
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Seriously, most of the bacteria that is around now wasn't around back then. 300 years ago even, there weren't half the problems out there that there are now.
WTF???????

No, back then the bacteria and other things just killed people before they hit 30...like the bubonic plague....
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jlanier01 View Post
I know this is a loaded question, but I've been reading up a bit on the history of beer, and never have I found one ancient culture that expressed the need for a sanitized beer making environment.


Thanks,
J
Uh..MOST of early brewing was in response to the fact that drinking water could kill them...whether or not they understood anythign about germ theory..usually the shaman figured stuff out.....People drank water, people got sick...people boiled water, and added other things..people no got sick...It was the beer ITSELF that was sanitized and provided an alternative to dying from drinking the water.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:05 AM   #8
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My more serious answer is that they probably did drink infected beer, and they probably didn't care.

Remember that they didn't even know that yeast was what made wort into beer. I remember reading somewhere too that a lot of batches of wort would get dumped back in the day, because they'd never take off.

Also remember that they didn't use hops. I wonder if the sour flavor balanced out the sweet flavor somehow.

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Old 10-28-2009, 02:08 AM   #9
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Whoa Whoa Whoa... I was implying no cultural bias at all... I was simply saying beer was not a leisure beverage like it is today. People drank it for breakfast, people drank it at work, people drank it before bed... People drank it because it was safe to drink. All I was saying is that taste wasn't the first priority, I didn't say it wasn't a priority or that it tasted bad... In fact I am sure it tasted pretty good.

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Old 10-28-2009, 02:14 AM   #10
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I think that the progression of taste has changed quite a bit in the last few hundred years. Back then, you wouldn't find most of what we eat in America (even the ethnic foods) because the taste combinations or methods for making such food weren't practiced or experimented with as much. The ingredients were raw, whole, and more simple. This goes for their drinks as well. Did they make an oatmeal stout or a cherry wheat ale back then? Most likely not, but what they did make tasted great to them (and I'm sure a lot of us) and was a heck of a lot safer than untreated water.

Different times call for different measures.

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