An Iron Brew: 2,500-Year-Old Drink Recreated by Archaeologists and Brewers





In some of the latest news in archaeology, a bronze cauldron was discovered inside a burial plot from 400 or 450 BC in Germany. The walls of the vessel contained precious remnants of an old drink recipe. Now, researchers have managed to recreate the ancient brew.

Read more…

Here’s the important bit – the ingredients and how it tastes.

Paleobotanical analysis of the vessel’s contents allowed the researchers
to discover the ingredients of the brew’s recipe. They found that it
was made up of yeast, barley, honey, meadowsweet, and mint.

….research was continued in Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery,

where the cellarmaster Chad Sheridan (an
expert in homebrewed meads) helped re-create the process of preparing
the ancient drink …

His result was a smooth and pleasant drink which has been described
as tasting like a dry port, but with a herbal minty tinge (and) an [alcohol by volume] of over 8 percent.

…adding honey at this stage would
probably make it more drinkable for [today’s] mead imbibers, we decided
to leave it as is.

Sounds very pleasant.

I’d second the “no extra honey” – a lot of modern commercial meads are too sweet (Bunratty here in Ireland, for instance). It’s like putting sugar on a bowl of pre-sugared cereal
such as Frosties or Ricicles (or Calvin’s favourite Chocolate Frosted
Sugar Bombs – to which he often adds extra sugar because “they’re kinda
bland” without it). I sometimes wonder if customers are reluctant to accept a honey-based drink that tastes dry.

Defunct company Penlyn Mead of Cornwall used to make the best mead I’ve ever encountered.
It didn’t involve anything besides water, honey, yeast, time and skill.

The drink was bottled out at 13% abv, (red wine level)

and though the honey scent and flavour remained, there was no cloying sweetness since

a higher proportion of the sugar had become alcohol.

Writer Note: (for interesting names) Mead with added grape juice is “pyment” (pih-ment? pie-ment? pee-ment?); with added berry juice is “melomel”; with added herbs and/or spices is “metheglin”.

I’ve seen the word “metheglin” written before and I love it; it seems to promise so much mystery.


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