Friday, May 24, 2019

'Ancient Beer' from Antique Yeast

Israeli researchers from the Antiquities Authority together with Bar-Ilan, Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities claimed Wednesday that they had successfully managed to extract yeast from the time of yore and produced head-spinning concoctions with it. 

Altogether, six yeasts that were up to 5,000 years were taken from the remains of jars found at archaeological sites, including a Philistine site in Israel linked to the biblical story of Goliath. Other sites were in the Negev desert – the oldest one linked to ancient Egypt – as well as Tel Aviv and in the Jerusalem area. 

The yeasts' genomes were sequenced, and they were put in a liquid medium to grow before being used to brew beer as well as mead. 

The beer had a six-percent alcoholic strength and similar in taste to a wheat ale and the mead was at 14-percent strength. 

Modern beer-making methods were used to produce the tipple – and it is believed to be similar to beverages enjoyed by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. 

Ronen Hazan, a microbiologist at Hebrew University said the scientific importance to the work lay in its insight into how to reconstruct the past and the domestication of microorganisms like yeast. 

Yitzhak Paz of the Antiquities Authority was honest – he admitted he took some extra pleasure from the work. 

Until now, researchers used timeworn recipes, but modern materials. 

“This is the first time when we actually used ancient materials to create ancient beer”, maintained Paz. 

"The greatest wonder here is that the yeast colonies survived within the vessel for thousands of years – just waiting to be excavated and grown", Hazan added. 

And of course, the idea of drinking beer from bygone days is simply an opportunity not to be missed.

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