Beer Discovery: 2,500-Year-Old Celtic Beer Recipe

It may not be the oldest of all beer recipes discovered, but this Celtic recipe from the Iron Age is an important one nonetheless. According to Dr. Stika, a German archaeobotanist who’s been studying early Celtic remains from about 500 BC, believes he has unlocked the recipe they used for making beer.

After working out several hypotheses for making beer given the excavated ditches he found, which contained grains of charred barley, he concluded that most likely the oblong ditches were used for soaking the barley grains until germination. He believes that fires were then lit at the ends of the ditches to slowly dry out the grains and give the malt a dark, smoky flavor. This slow drying would also have caused the growth of bacteria, whose released lactic acid would add a certain sourness to the brew.

I do love a sour brew. Of course, since hops weren’t added to beer until around 800 AD, this would have tasted far different from what we know and love today.

As far as fermentation goes, according to the article, “[it] was probably produced by yeast on the brewing equipment, or by wild yeast on honey or fruit added to the brew. The final beer would have remained cloudy and with a yeasty sediment, and the brew would have been drunk at room temperature.”


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