How did ancient people brew mead without nutrients?

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So I recently got some nutrients and I did a brew that probably hit 16% I dont have the money to buy a hydrometer but im definitely drunk and high. I ate like 500MG of THC gummy worms idk I lost count honestly. But mead with nutrient tastes better and its stronger what even is the nutrient anyway.
 

bernardsmith

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and who says that the meads that were made hundreds of years ago were delicious? Often they were made as medicines - metheglin is Welsh and has the same etymology as medicine. The water was very impure as was the honey so it was boiled and the impurities may have contained some compounds the yeast need. Moreover, in the dim and distant past it could take a year or more to fully ferment a mead. Today, you can ferment a mead in a few weeks, bottle after a few months and drink fairly soon after that. Sure, the mead will improve the longer it is aged but in the past it was hardly even drinkable before a year had passed.
 

bkboiler

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I read as speculation that some of the first estimated mead was a desert traveler with a pigs stomach as a canteen. Had it about half full of water and found a delicious sweet substance and decided to take some with for the road.
My guess is the natural flora used in these ancient natural vessels was helpful in healthy fermentations.
I suppose that's easier than a teaspoon of DAP...
 

Jayjay1976

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They drank it sweet and nasty because they didn't know any better. At the very least they drank enough to procreate so that we could be here to fix it for them. Bunch of drunken horny morons, it's amazing they managed to breed at all.
 

Krawu

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They were unable to filter must, they usually just boiled the everliving hell out of it but and skimmed the scum off the surface but some pollen or debris or other contaminants were unavoidable and even desirable. That was most likely what acted as yeast nutrients. They also added herbs and other aromatics even during primary fermentation.

I've mused a lot about how food and drink might've worked in the past, so I'll go off on a bit of a tangent for those who're interested.

The vast majority of brews in ye olden days were likely weak and nasty by our standards. As in the cheapest Chateau de box wine that is made according to modern food standards would've been up there with the absolute best they had. By necessity most of it was drunk young.
Without an understanding of sanitation while relying on wild yeasts and contaminate as nutrients and a lack of sulfur or campden tablets almost any ferment would develop off-flavors. It would continue to ferment until it ran dry or even became sour becausebsugar and honey were expensive.
That's why stronger brews were more expensive then whereas it's an afterthought today.
We treat Hippocras as a specialty but back then adding spices to and sweetening old wine and beer was often necessary to make it palatable.
We like to talk about how much ale people drank but it was basically regarded as liquid bread, not an alcoholic beverage most of the time and needed to be used quickly before it went off. It was super weak too, probably at 0.5-2% abv.
In the diary of Samuel Pepys he often mentions going to an alehouse to have a pint for breakfast if they had no food at home.
 

Birrofilo

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The vast majority of brews in ye olden days were likely weak and nasty by our standards. As in the cheapest Chateau de box wine that is made according to modern food standards would've been up there with the absolute best they had. By necessity most of it was drunk young.
This is something that I hear often, especially from US folks or documentaries, the idea that people in the Middle Ages, or in Ancient Roman times, would eat food that we find questionable or disgusting, putting up with molds and acids.

I don't think at all the ancients did not have the technology to produce fine food, to preserve it, to even sell it at long distances without damage to its quality.

The Ancient Romans would make some wines that would be aged for many years, even twenty years. They sold for very high prices. People, then as now, is rational and they wouldn't have gone into the pain and cost if they only obtained ordinary vinegar or defective wine. It is to be believed that they actually knew how to make wine on purpose for laying down, and they knew how to lay it down.

Honey was possibly the most expensive food for many centuries. The technique to raise bees is relatively modern. In the middle ages honey was produced by just ravaging a hive. Such an expensive and rare food would not have been used to produce a sour and unpleasant drink. Honey has no conservation problem so there was no need to actually transform it into something else, or to savage a rotten lot. If they used it for mead, it's because they were able to produce delicious mead.

Don't let me started into DOP food! Parmigiano Reggiano DOP can be traced back to the middle ages, it is quoted in the Decamerone by Boccaccio, and is certainly older. It requires 14 litres of milk for 1 kg of cheese. You don't expect these kind of product to exist if they were not of superior quality and if people were not able to preserve them adequately.

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale DOP is documented as existing in year 1046. This requires a long and elaborate seasoning, modern requirements asks for minimum 12 years, but you can find 25 or 50 years old.

At the times of Shakespeare, Britons would either drink Ale (non hopped beer, very sweet) or Beer (hopped beer coming from Germany, similar to modern hopped ale). All Ale was produced locally and Beer was imported from abroad. One has to believe that that Beer, even though having made a long journey by cart and ship, would retain its quality enough to actually end up displacing Ale completely (the Ale we drink now, Shakespeare would call Beer).

In Rome there is an entire artificial hill, the Monte Testaccio, which is composed by oil amphoras arriving by sea and then up to the Tiber river. This oil was certainly not rancid or degraded, as if that was the case Rome would have consumed the oil coming from modern day Latium, Umbria and Tuscany, and the artificial hill would have been formed north of Rome (near the Ripetta river harbour) rather than South (near the Ripa river harbour).

We have many clues that the ancients were able to produce, preserve and transport very fine food.
 

Raptor99

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I found a very interesting site with research into ancient mead recipes. Here's a page with a recipe from the 14th c. 14th c. Tractatus Quick Mead and Metheglyn | Mystery of Mead This particular recipe includes the lees and some liquid from a batch of ale, so that would provide both yeast and nutrient (dead yeast).

The great thing about this site is that it includes a detailed discussion, and then the author tries to reproduce the ancient recipe. Check out the other recipes on this site. Fascinating reading!
 

Raptor99

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Honey was possibly the most expensive food for many centuries. The technique to raise bees is relatively modern. In the middle ages honey was produced by just ravaging a hive.
According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, beekeeping goes back 9000 years. So at least in some areas they had more access to honey. But I think that you are correct that it was probably still fairly expensive.
 

Krawu

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According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, beekeeping goes back 9000 years. So at least in some areas they had more access to honey. But I think that you are correct that it was probably still fairly expensive.
It's not so much a question of access, it's a matter of supply and demand. Before the introduction of cane and beet sugar honey was really the only way to sweeten anything. Because of this a LOT of people wanted it, be it for cooking, sweetening wine, fermenting it and even using it as a preservative. So it wasn't so expensive that it wouldn't be found in most normal households but it was still used sparingly if possible.

The British Jourrnal of Nuitrition had an article in 1996 that mentioned that around 1350 honey was about as expensive as butter by weight (1-3 pence/kg) This was about a days' wage for an unskilled laborer at the time (http://www.naturaleater.com/science-articles/158-Reappraisal-honey-intake-pre-industrial-diets.pdf, p517). But, by this time sugar was already available, though at 3 shillings per kg it was 12-36 times more expensive.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that all food was gross and rotten before 1800.
This is why I said it's be nasty by our standards. It may not seem like it to you but our food standards are absurdly high nowadays. Example: Would you eat meat that has been laying in the sun in 35 degree weather for the better part of a day with flies crawling over it? We know this was normal because it still is in rural areas of less industrialized countries. With food less available people were less picky about what they ate.

I don't like referring to the same source too often but even a wealthy man like Pepys in the 1660s would often just go to a friend or neighbor where they had just cooked, not every household would cook their own meals every single day because someone had to go and get all those ingredients, then they had to be used while still edible.
Multiple times he mentions that when eating out he was brought old, undercooked or even maggot-infested meat once, and he certainly wouldn't have frequented the most dingy and disreputable of places. If a tavern was willing to serve this to a high-status navy administrator and accountant and his equally high-status friends it HAD to be common.

Of course a learned brewer or vintner could make a great and stable product, but it was still expensive to the point where most people would only get it on special occasions or for a specific purpose like a gift. That's why they earned so well and were respected. And even they still couldn't get great results as reliably as we can today. If a batch didn't come out great it'd just be sold at a cheaper price, but people would still drink it. Nobody would toss out half a wine harvest because it was a little dry and sulfury. A spoon of honey and some cloves and ginger will take care of that.

Port exists because the sweet wine they wanted in France and England would regularly go bad on the 2-4 week voyage from Portugal, so they added brandy to make it last longer.

The famous foods you mentioned as examples that not everything was disgusting back then survived and became famous precisely because they were exceptional. When the Great Fire of London occurred Samuel Pepys writes how he buried his wine and Parmesan cheese in case the conflagration reached his home. That's how precious these things were.

Sir W. Pen and I to Tower-streete, and there met the fire burning three or four doors beyond Mr. Howell’s, whose goods, poor man, his trayes, and dishes, shovells, &c., were flung all along Tower-street in the kennels, and people working therewith from one end to the other; the fire coming on in that narrow streete, on both sides, with infinite fury. Sir W. Batten not knowing how to remove his wine, did dig a pit in the garden, and laid it in there; and I took the opportunity of laying all the papers of my office that I could not otherwise dispose of. And in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another, and put our wine in it; and I my Parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things.
Tuesday 4 September 1666
If you got your wine at a monastery or professional vintner (or import trader) you could be pretty sure it'd be decent but costly. Hell, Germany has some beers that monasteries have been famous for for over 600 years. But if you got your ale at a neighbors house where the wife had just made a new batch as was common, it'd be cheap, but a crapshoot in terms of quality.
 
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Birrofilo

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According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, beekeeping goes back 9000 years. So at least in some areas they had more access to honey. But I think that you are correct that it was probably still fairly expensive.
Maybe in some other place than in Europe. You see, the text which you quote in #9 also states that the hives were destroyed to collect the honey.
 

Birrofilo

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@Krawu

But again, one might say that when Pepys notes this in his diary is precisely because he is unsatisfied. Precisely like we would write on our diary "eaten at a the Restaurant The Golden Arm. Meat too cooked and wine too acid. (Never more!)". If it had been normal to be served that kind of food, no mention would be made in the diary.

People did not cook every day, but they would cook for several days and eat in subsequent days the pre-cooked food, which is much more stable. This is something that people do also today. Cooking every day is time-consuming.

Meat and fish were, for the ordinary people, a once-a-week affair. Fish on Friday, meat on Sunday. Fish is normally cooked the same day it is bought. The soup that you obtain can be preserved for a few days. Meat was a delicacy for festive days. How could it have been disgusting or sub-par?

I cannot know about XVII century Britain but in Italy, in general, cows were not the main source of meat, rather chicken, pigs, rabbits, sheep.
Meat was also cooked immediately, so much so that it was common in XVII century to sell alive chicken, alive rabbits, or alive lamb (which were the most common meat). A pig cannot be eaten in one day or two and when the pork is killed, all his meat is immediately cut, cooked or cured. There is a precise order with which the various parts are consumed. E.g. sanguinaccio, the blood sweet preparation, was eaten first. Cured pork (ham, salami, mortadella etc.) is probably the answer to that conservation problem. But yes, in the past you would go to a tavern and they had chickens or lambs which they had killed and cooked an hour before.

My aunts went to Tunisia in the late '70 or early '80. I remember when they told us they arrived to a place where the group would eat, and the cooks were killing, in the backyards, the lambs that would have been served shortly after. This was the normal way to proceed: you kill the animal just before cooking it. Most people would live not in town but in the countryside. I remember my grand-mother just going to the rabbit hutch, taking a rabbit, killing and skinning it and preparing it in a few minutes. Same for chicken. This was the normal way to consume meat.

There were times of great scarcity (due to bad crops, wars, illnesses etc.) and in those times certainly people would eat anything and the standards were much lower. During the famine of 1630 in Lombardy people were reportedly eating grass.

What I mean is that the "technology" was in place and the habits were such that the food was not normally disgusting or rotten and when it was, people took note :)

Regarding the wine from Portugal or Italy, the question is: would a spoiled charge be sold as wine, or not? There was a high percentage of spoilage, but that spoiled wine probably become alcohol (distillation of brandy) or vinegar. If people, the market, had accepted that as acceptable wine, it would have gone on without becoming "Port". The need to fortify the wine arises from the fact that the market refuses wine which arrives damaged.
 
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bernardsmith

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I wonder though, if when hives were built and kept whether it was as much for the wax as it was for the honey. Candles were used for light and the RC church used candles for services. Tallow candles would stink. Bees wax wouldn't.
As to poor quality of wines... given that archeological evidence going back millennia point to wines being designated for royal households in the middle east and wines being designated for the workers and others my sense is that high quality wines were far from being unknown. And ale for peasants in Britain was a major source of both calories and nutrients. If you lived by the sea then seafood would be a possible dish. But meat? Most game and river fish would be "owned" by the Crown and the Crown's family and friends and the cost of those might be the life of the "poacher" . while the real cost of slaughtering any beast would be more than the cost of its flesh (wool, milk, offspring, eggs) so the only animals that might be eaten with any regularity would be those too old or sickly to be worth feeding.
 

Maylar

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At the wedding in Cana, Galilee, John writes of Jesus changing water to wine. The banquet master tells the groom

“Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Obviously there was good wine 2000 years ago.
 

Birrofilo

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But meat? Most game and river fish would be "owned" by the Crown and the Crown's family and friends and the cost of those might be the life of the "poacher" . while the real cost of slaughtering any beast would be more than the cost of its flesh (wool, milk, offspring, eggs) so the only animals that might be eaten with any regularity would be those too old or sickly to be worth feeding.
This is Geordie, who was hung with a golden rope, which is a rare privilege, always surfacing in English-speaking culture... :)

The lambs actually have to be killed because if the milk is drunk by the lambs, there is not much milk left to make cheese. For what I know, the strategy of the ancient was to kill many young lambs, and calves, to have more cheese. (Milk was consumed, until the fridge revolution, almost exclusively as cheese). But, my speculation, that depends from geography: if you raise cattle far away from cheese markets (let's say, a faraway Scottish patch) you might just raise the animals and then sell them in town, just like gauchos would do in Argentina today. Cheese is fine if you are not too far from the consumption market.

I don't know about the economics of chicken raising (the egg/meat repartition) I suppose that one has only one male, one rooster in a chicken coop, all other males go in the pot, often after having been castrated and let grow (capons).

Also, at least in Italy, it was common for country houses to have a colombaia or piccionaia under the roof, where pigeons would nest. That alone guaranteed a small but constant meat contribution to the diet, because pigeons find their food by themselves, they are not limited by the food which they find in the hay, it's completely free meat.
 
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Krawu

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True, when there was a special occasion that warranted killing of a whole animal (which was out of the question for average household due to how much more valuable the dairy and eggs from them would usually be) the meat would undoubtedly be fresh.

But there is undoubtedly economic incentive to somehow sell old meat as well. The difference between "good" and "bad" food was simply much greater than it is today. If someone had to walk to market and back to buy meat it'd be at least several hours with no refrigeration by that point.

I know that in the modern industry (at least in Germany), every hour of interruption in the cooling chain for raw meat is treated the same as it having been without refrigeration for 24 hours.

In the case of your aunts do remember that killing an animal was a luxury in the Middle Ages and before. Most households couldn't afford it even if they were having guests because the milk of a cow or the eggs of a hen could feed you for much longer than their meat.

Almost any culture has some sort of traditional dish made from the most perishable bits of an animal as well as the scraps that can't be smoked, cured or made into sausages. It's usually the innards, fat and boiled off bits of meat from the bones which had to be eaten on the day the animal was slaughtered (haggis or blood sausage come to mind). These practices exist for good reason: Yes, people didn't want spoiled food but spoilage is a slippery slope. My guess is that they thought food was still good at a point where most of us wouldn't touch it with a three-foot pole.

Truthfully, perishability was less of a problem with fruit, vegetables and grain products, which were much more prominent in most peoples diets. If you wanted some carrots in your stew you'd head to the garden and pull some. Even under less than ideal conditions most produce could be carried to market for a few miles and was good to sell for at least a day or two.

But to come back to the original topic - brews: If you went and bought a young brew you'd probably get a drinkable, sweet but relatively weak cup of wine. As mentioned before, an old brew becoming sour or having some odd flavors wasn't considered unpalatable but that simply fell in the range of expected characteristics for an old brew - it simply had to be made palatable somehow to be considered OK to drink.
By this time germ theory wasn't a thing yet, so in peoples minds masking a bad thing was the same as getting rid of it (Why bathe when you can simply use powder and perfume?)
 

Birrofilo

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In the case of your aunts do remember that killing an animal was a luxury in the Middle Ages and before. Most households couldn't afford it even if they were having guests because the milk of a cow or the eggs of a hen could feed you for much longer than their meat.
Yes I agree they did want eggs and milk rather than meat, but that applies only to females, because only females produce egg or milk. Males, which means 50% of cattle, would only provide meat, normally after castration.
Besides, that only applies to cows, sheep and chicken, because pig milk never was a traditional food, while pig always were (in Italy at least) a frequent and obvious presence in the countryside, and rabbits, at least in Italy, always were considered good for food and copiously raised (helped in this by the notorious fertility of this species, this tradition might be absent in some other European places, or in China etc.).

Pigs can be left in the underwood and they would consume beeches and acorns, which are not consumable by man, transforming a non-food into delicious food.

We should also consider animals used for labour, such as mules, donkeys, oxes. They ended up in the pot as well, ultimately, and in a society where all labour force came from animals, they amounted to a not little source of meat.
 

Redeemer

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Before coffee was popularized, beer was the most common breakfast beverage in the Americas.

As for a chicken leg, yes I believe in Mexico this is known as a Pollomel.
 

bernardsmith

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Beer? That came more when Germans immigrated to the US. Before that cider (by that I mean hard cider) was the drink. (see , for example, Michael Pollin's The Botany of Desire).
 

Birrofilo

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Beer? That came more when Germans immigrated to the US. Before that cider (by that I mean hard cider) was the drink. (see , for example, Michael Pollin's The Botany of Desire).
Maybe cider was more widespread than today, but I do believe ale was largely drunk in North America before the wave of German immigrants. The Germans brought the taste for lager and German lager producers took the market in a few decades and "lagerized" the US beer market.

Actually for what I know certain US styles were designed as an attempt to resist the lager "invasion". Lager is expensive to make and US producers, seeing the success of US-German producers selling lagers, thought to propose the market a light ale with a lager-style aromatic profile. Before the Germans arrived, American ales must have been similar to British ale, one must infer.
 

bernardsmith

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Any Tom, Dick or Harriet could make cider and most Toms, Dicks and Harriets would have easy access to apple trees (before the temperance movements had them chopped down and before prohibition in the 20th C banned the production of alcohol). Apple juice without any assistance ferments and in the winter if left outside it jacks - hands -free. To make beer you really need facilities and those facilities need the kinds of vessels which can withstand high temperatures and while you can certainly make a few gallons of ale or beer for yourself brewing involves a great deal more hands on labor than cider making.
I don't have the figures for the amount of beer drunk in the US compared to cider but see
Cider in America: A Brief History and see Hard Cider's Mysterious Demise
 

Birrofilo

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@bernardsmith

Yes but apple (and fruit in general) are a more difficult and expensive crop than cereals. Cereals grow in hot and cold weather (depending which), with abundant or scarce water, etc. Fruit is subject to spells of cold, of wind (which destroys the flowers), to insects, to "predation" by birds, and require an apt climate and sufficient water. It's an altogether different game, and much more difficult than growing cereals. The final product is expensive, cider is probably a by-product (made with second-choice apples) which comes certainly obvious in an apple-producing region.

I read now that the US are a strong producer of apples, due evidently to favourable conditions. It is certainly possible that cider was quite widespread before prohibitionism, but beer also was and was probably cheaper and widespread. Very interesting though, it may be that in the US, let's say colonial US, cider was as drunk as beer, or even more.

(It came as a surprise to me that whisky was, for the entire XVIII century and probably also XIX century, less consumed than rum and brandy in the US!).
 
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cmac62

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The final product is expensive, cider is probably a by-product (made with second-choice apples) which comes certainly obvious in an apple-producing region.
I don't think this is correct, as when the apples ripened all at once and there was no way to save or sell as many as they had so they pressed a significant portion into cider, and back then if it sat around for any length of time it fermented. After a month or so all of the cider was "hard" to some degree. I have no sources, or verification and if I'm wrong I'm okay with letting me know, but this seems to make more sense than they used sub-par apples to make their cider. :mug:
 

Birrofilo

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I don't think this is correct, as when the apples ripened all at once and there was no way to save or sell as many as they had so they pressed a significant portion into cider, and back then if it sat around for any length of time it fermented. After a month or so all of the cider was "hard" to some degree. I have no sources, or verification and if I'm wrong I'm okay with letting me know, but this seems to make more sense than they used sub-par apples to make their cider. :mug:
I see. Yes, it might be. Maybe they were not inside jam or dried fruits.

Generally, in fruit, the first choice is for the consumption, the second choice is for transformation (dried, under syrup, under alcohol, jam, fruit compote, candied fruit, whatever), the third choice of fruit is destined to fermentation. People normally don't ferment good-looking fruits but fruits which are half-broken, bad-looking, supermature, or have other defects: with a knife you cut away the wrong part and you throw in the basket the rest, then you press, and all the beauty is lost anyway.

But in ancient US jams might have been expensive or complicated, dried fruit or fruit under spirit/syrup might not have been part of the local culture, so cider might have been a way to postpone the consumption of a large part of the production.
 

bernardsmith

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But you are assuming that most apple trees in the US were for edible apples. It would seem that that is only something that occurred very recently. When Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) was giving away bushels of apple seeds he was giving away SEEDS and not graftings. Apples grown from seed do not produce the apples we enjoy as dessert fruit. In fact you might not even recognize the fruit as apples. Our eating apples are basically cloned from a few dozen (literally) idealized fruit though grafting. The fruit that was grown in the 18th and 19th Century would likely have been too sour , too hard, too sweet, too mushy, too misshapen etc to consider eating, except perhaps for the harvest of one or two trees that might grow in a farm or orchard. The one value would have been that when those unedible fruit were scratted and juiced together they would produce a wonderful alcoholic beverage that today what we think of as "hard cider" would have been much like what craft brewers think of as undrinkable stuff brewed by giant breweries.
 

Birrofilo

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@bernardsmith

Read a little, very interesting. I am not convinced by the idea that, because an apple is not grafted, then it is inedible and good only for cider, though. This is even more suspect considering that Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman was some sort of Protestant religious maniac, and that's not the group of people that one associates with spreading cider culture and consumption.

I am rather inclined to believe that Chapman was against grafting for some religious mental masturbation but that, overall, the apple trees that he was planting or selling bore fruits which were enjoyable without committing sin.
 

bernardsmith

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But John Chapman as Johnny Appleseed was hijacked by certain religious claimants. He may or may not have been a Christian and he certainly loved Native American culture and dressed in a very non-Puritan manner (and may have had a desire for young under-aged girls though that was not something that the the temperance movement that "rewrote" Chapman's history to make it conform to their propaganda liked to dwell upon.

Don't know anything about sins associated with cider. My own culture has no problem with the consumption of alcohol either in religious rituals or outside of them although drinking responsibly is everyone's obligation.

The fact is that apples that grow from seed are not in and of themselves inedible, they are simply unpredictable as to taste, texture, time to harvest, etc. In short you do not plant apple seeds to harvest eating apples. I think , but am not certain that the same kind of things applies to grape seed: if you want Riesling or Malbec wine you do not plant seeds from those grapes. You graft the plants and harvest the fruit. But with grapes I may very well be wrong.
 

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I forget where I read/heard this, but I suspect it was a drunken night hanging out with my archeologist PhD candidate friends ... the theory goes roughly like this

Neolithic man existed in small groups
They discovered that the liquid at the bottom of beehives was magical
They assembled into larger and larger groupings to procure more of this magic liquid - first towns/cities
They needed to switch to intentional farming/agriculture to sustain the large group - first agriculture
They discovered the water at the bottom of the grain containers had a different magical liquid
The people who knew how to shepherd the production of this magic liquid were elevated in society - first priests/societal hierarchies
The process by which magic liquid was produced was passed down, at first orally, but then documented permanently if the recipe was extra delish - first writing

Thus much of what allowed us to become "civilized" is due to brewing/mazering


 
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bernardsmith

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Not an archaeologist but I suspect that the claim that liquid at the bottom of any bag storing grain highlights the fact that those archaeologists have never brewed beer. You need malted grains to contain the enzymes to convert the very long and complex sugars to simpler sugars that yeast can ferment. Far more likely is that when bread was first made the difference between dough and wort was fairly insignificant and that bread (and or dough) was used as the substrate for beer and beer was used as the yeast to leaven the bread and the evidence for that would seem to be found in Egypt.
 

Birrofilo

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I think , but am not certain that the same kind of things applies to grape seed: if you want Riesling or Malbec wine you do not plant seeds from those grapes. You graft the plants and harvest the fruit. But with grapes I may very well be wrong.
Grapes have a different problem. An insect, the phylloxera, damages the plant from the roots. The remedy is to graft the vitigno (Riesling, Malbec etc.) to a "foot" of American grape, which has natural defenses against phylloxera.

All European grapes are grafted on an American "foot" with the exception of certain grapes which are grown in the Veneto region, in Italy, near the sea, and grow in "salty" terrain, phylloxera doesn't like salt.

In the world, as far as I know, only Chile is so far immune to this plague.
 

circitmage

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You need malted grains to contain the enzymes to convert the very long and complex sugars to simpler sugars that yeast can ferment.
Not entirely correct ... You need Amylase (contained in several substances) to convert starches to sugars ... many ancient processes get the needed Amylase from human spit (Andean Chiche, Japanese ritual Sake "Kuchikamizake", etc...) ... using malted grains is just one of *many* paths to get the amylase - and a little of it goes a long way ... Also, as a source for amylase, malted grains are far more complex to process to obtain the Amylase than other easily available natural sources - beets, celery, mammalian pancreas, saliva, etc...


... the evidence for that would seem to be found in Egypt.
Gobekli Tepe (subject of first article I linked to) predates ancient Egyptian civilization by ~4,000 years ... Anthropologists documented and published the discovery of large troughs (160gallons?) with oxalate residue from grain fermentation ... Natufian, Ubaid and Halaf sites throughout the fertile crescent (again pre-dating Egyptians by thousands of years) all have been found with evidence of grain fermentation in ritual sites ... as is detailed in the second article, cereals were likely too hard to process with Late Neolithic technology to turn it primarily into bread (sow, water, grow, harvest, separate chaff, grind, bake, etc...) ... By the time brewing got to the Egyptians, it was already a fully formed economy, with sub-specialist classes (malters, grinders, fermenters, etc...) throughout the Levant and Fertile Crescent


but to the OP's point, the lack of modern sanitary conditions in ancient times led to yeast nutrients being abundant and plentiful in whatever was fermenting ;-)
 
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Birrofilo

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as is detailed in the second article, cereals were likely too hard to process with Late Neolithic technology to turn it primarily into bread (sow, water, grow, harvest, separate chaff, grind, bake, etc...)
sow, water, grow, harvest are common to beer and bread. But cereals can also be harvested in the wild.
Bread requires milling and cooking, which is somehow technological, but cooking of a thin layer can be made on a stone (somebody says, a stone made hot by the sun), and that can be termed bread.
Fermented malt juice is probably easier to make, but is it beer without malting and mashing?

A book I read says that every few years a new discovery changes the picture in this strange question "which came first, bread or beer?". Glad to know at the moment beer has the lead. Who knows which will be first in a few years?
 

circitmage

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A book I read says that every few years a new discovery changes the picture in this strange question "which came first, bread or beer?".
 

Redeemer

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I can't get past the fact that nobody has latched onto my name for the chicken leg tossed into your honey must and calling it Pollomel. I'm giving you guys gold here :thumbsup:
 

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