Small Volume Experiment - Ancient Egyptian Beer

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by AHarper, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    I have just been watching the video - linked below - after watching a TV program about Ancient Egypt and their Friday night drunken parties (yes they had them and it was a religious requirement") so I researched their beer making methods and came across the video below. I now want to have a go to see what they managed to brew.

    Essentially they had a very efficient method of producing beer with a high alcohol content which basically is like this:
    Stage 1: Mix a malted grain with ambient temperature water (roughly 15 - 20C) to form a mix high in enzymes.
    Stage 2: Mix a non malted (or malted - the experts are not quite sure) grain with hot water - no higher than 80C (as their single fired terracotta pots could not handle higher) - this is much like our current mash methods which we know should be in the region of 65C. This produces the familiar "porridge" with all the gluten chains opened up ready for the enzymes to work with.
    Stage 3: Let both volumes sit a bit - the exact time is unsure but I suspect for as long as the hot mash cools to hand hot) before,
    Stage 4: Mix both volumes together and strain into a fermentation vessel.

    There are now three possible routes to take that provide increasing levels of fermentation and resultant alcohol produced and variation of taste / flavours.
    1) the mix is left as is at Stage 4, 2) a Pot-pourri of roasted pistachios, rose petals, sessame seeds, corriander and cumin seeds is added to the mix and, 3) Dates are added to the mix
    Route 3 makes the highest ABV about 6% apparently, Route 2 produces about 4% and I am not sure what Route 1 makes but it is less than Route 2.

    The mix is - or rather was - fermented in a terracotta pot with a muslin cloth tied over the top as a "bug filter". The mix would be naturally fermented by airborne yeasts. I guess we could substitute a suitable known modern yeast here and ferment in our usual vessels - this would be an experiment after all. The method, as depicted in the video, takes about 5 days to ferment out but we have better tools to use these days and our experience should tell us when fermentation has ceased.

    Anyway, I think I will have a go with some spare grains and see what results. Anyone else want to give it a go?
    The video I saw is below and there are links mentioned to further reading - I have yet to follow but will get round to it.
    I hope this link works....


    upload_2021-1-19_0-58-54.png
     
  2. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Interested... not sure when I'd get round to it. Watched something similar not that long ago
    .
    Bit of 80s British nostalgia for you in that one.

    The other one I've heard about is that some of the other booze makers around that time would also add in fruit juice and honey to amp up the alcohol. Maybe some other ingredients for your flavour step.

    Thinking about process as I type...
     
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  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    It's my understanding that higher alcohol content wouldn't have been particularly sought after. They weren't producing a recreational drug but rather a nutritional supplement. Since water-borne disease was a big problem, beer or wine was a much safer way to store and transport liquids for hydration. The beer (farmhouse ale) produced with grain would have had a component of carbohydrate and alcohol that would supplement daily calorie rations and help keep workers going. Higher alcohol would have been counterproductive to the goal of getting work done. :)
     
  4. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    Yes they mentioned that in the video - beer was safer to drink than Nile water for sure. When the ladies brewed the beer - especially after adding the dates - they found that it was difficult NOT to produce the alcohol to the levels they got in the experiment. I guess they could water down the beer for every day consumption but they did have riotous orgies at religious gatherings - and no social distancing either!!! In ancient times that is - not the ladies in the video.... Now that WOULD have been an interesting view...
     
  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Watering down (with contaminated water) would defeat the purpose because the PH would be altered and beer isn't strong enough to kill bacteria or parasites. It's the boiling (or warming) and subsequent fermentation that works to keep things sterile. PH, not necessarily alcohol content, would make the beer inhospitable for harmful microorganisms.
    As for the "religious gatherings", if there were any mind-altering substances like strong drink, I suspect that would be reserved for the priests and other higher-ups in society. :)
     
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  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    That was a big step in the discovery of cholera too, the monks nearby weren't getting sick because they boiled the water for beer.
     
  7. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like Sixth Street!
     
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  8. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

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    I don't know what's on 6th street but the beer & religious experience must have been truly insightful. Hang overs must have been epic.
    My understanding is that the commoners participated in the religious orgies as well the the priests not unlike the religious holidays in the dark ages.
     
  9. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

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    Thanks @AHarper & @Mark Farrall . Very interesting & inspirational. Our ancestal precursors have set a high bar. Nutritional & religious all in 1.
     
  10. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    Beer is the ONLY true religion.... it makes devotees crawl on their hands and knees to get more. Just ask the High Priestess Yooper...
     
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  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Sixth Street here in Austin is the strip where the tourist watering holes are. A lot like Bourbon Street in New Orleans but with less character. :) Overpriced drinks and over-exposed* bands.

    *In the "Live Music Capitol of the World" bands struggle to find good-paying gigs but the crafty bar owners promise plenty of "exposure" aimed at raising the bands profile with potential audiences. Problem is that all the potential audiences are promised free music by the same crafty bar owners and so the cycle goes from one place to the next. Most bands die of exposure. :D
     
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  12. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    #12 AHarper, Jan 19, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
    Yes I know I have been there - back in 14. We had a good time despite the Commercialisation - even the girls with the Test Tube Shots were fun. It is still better than Bourbon Street - we went there too - Tacky was not the word.
    This is a composite picture of a bar in Sixth Street - you might know which one? The most taps I have seen in a bar.
    I just noticed - it is the Ginger Man... Is it still there? Well it's not on Sixth Street. Just off it - it was a heavy day drinking lol
    upload_2021-1-19_21-9-57.png
     
  13. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Gingerman is gone now. Last year or so, I think. That was actually one of the better ones. It was a couple of blocks off the main strip. Sixth Street used to be just divey college weekend-binge hangouts back in the 70s and 80ss. It got cool for about 10 to 15 years in the 90s and early 2000s with great local music and hip-but-not-pretentions places. Then it went full tourist and it's never looked back.
     
  14. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

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    There's a bar like that in Manchester (New Hampshire USA) with at least 100 taps, probably more.
     
  15. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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    I would not have liked to be the cellerman there - 24 hour job CIS ing the taps.
     
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  16. CausticWolf

    CausticWolf Active Member

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    This furthers my inspiration for making a spelt malt based beer
     
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  17. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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  18. AHarper

    AHarper Well-Known Member

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