Historical Beer

This is a trend in the industry, and has been since at least 1988. Yeasts from ships found at the bottom of the ocean, beers brewed by our forefathers. Here is an example of many of the past offerings in the industry. This by Anchor Brewing: Sumerian beer.

“Which came first? Beer or bread? A fascination with this question led to the recreation of a 2,700-year-old Sumerian beer, a project undertaken by Fritz Maytag, owner of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, and Dr. Solomon Katz, a bioanthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.”

“Maytag had read a story in Expeditions, UPenn’s museum publication, of the beer vs. bread debate first posed in the 1950s. Robert Braidwood of the University of Chicago had written that there was a cause-effect relationship between bread malting and the domestication of cereal grains. Jonathan D. Sauer, a botanist from the University of Wisconsin, countered by suggesting that the first uses of domesticated cereals may have been for beer rather than bread. Braidwood decided to hold a symposium on the subject for the journal American Anthropologist titled, ‘Did man once live by beer alone?'”


Hops were apparently unknown at that time. From a brewer’s perspective this is very significant because today’s beers benefit enormously from the flavors and aromas of hops. Even in the most modern brewery today, hops have a beneficial effect on preventing spoilage of beers. There is inconclusive evidence of alternate flavorings or spices in the Sumerian beer. We chose to use none at all; however, a sweet substance of uncertain nature is mentioned twice in the hymn, so we used honey and dates because we believe these were the most likely.

To the modern brewer, the most interesting aspect of these ancient beers is that they were made from bread. Actually, as the hymn makes clear, the loaves of bread, “bappir,” were mixed with malted barley to form a mash and thus, just as in some modern breweries, the natural enzymes in the malt would convert other starch sources into sugar, forming a complex, sweet, unfermented wort. Our Sumerian scholars told us that this “bread” was not only used in brewing, but was also stored in government warehouses on the national highway system.

…a second article on the same product.