Digging History

Scientists unearth 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe

Bottles of Tsingtao beer are placed on shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai March 28, 2016. (REUTERS/Aly Song)

Bottles of Tsingtao beer are placed on shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai March 28, 2016. (REUTERS/Aly Song)

It turns out that craft brewing isn’t just for modern hipsters looking to blend, ferment and sip the elements.

Researchers have announced the discovery of pottery vessels at the Jijaya site in northern China that provide beer brewing clues that are 5,000 years in the making.

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According to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), these ancient Chinese hipsters used a combination of broomcorn millet, barley, Job’s tears and tubers in their fermentation process. The report findings reveal direct evidence of in situ beer making in China, the first of its kind.

The presence of barley was particularly interesting to the team, because it was deduced using a process that examined the fossilized ingredients, based on phytolith morphometrics (the study of fossilized plant residue). The findings suggest that barley was present in China 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to the report.

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“Early beer making may have motivated the initial translocation of barley from the Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China before the crop became a part of agricultural subsistence in the region 3,000 years later,” wrote the team.

Lead author Jiajing Wang of Stanford University told AFP that the beer might have, “tasted a bit sour and a bit sweet.”

“Sour comes from fermented cereal grains, sweet from tubers,” he said.