Three women have taken inspiration from the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and have created a beer using a 5,000-year-old recipe.
Food historian Tasha Marks, brewer Michaela Charles and beer expert Susan Boyle have spent six months concocting the special brew.
According to the Daily Mail, the trio received help from the British Museum. They used ancient pots and pieced together methodology to accurately recreate Egyptian brewing methods.
Marks explained that the Ancient Egyptians produced and consumed vast quantities of beer.
“Beer was so essential it was treated principally as a type of food. It was consumed daily and in great quantities at religious festivals and celebrations. Beer was an essential for labourers, like those who built the Pyramids of Giza, who were provided with a daily ration of more than 10 pints. Yet it still had divine status, with several gods and goddesses associated with beer.”
Charles, who is the head brewer at the east London brewery AlphaBeta, used a hymn to Ninkasi, the Eqyptian Goddess of Beer, for guidance. The technique is far simpler than modern brewing methods.
Marks went on to say “In the British Museum’s Egyptian galleries, you can see models excavated from tombs which show wooden figures of brewers straining mash through a cloth into ceramic vessels. This visual clue led us to use a two-stage mash, which we then left to ferment in a vessel containing a harvested yeast culture. The advantage of a two-stage mash is its simplicity.”
The Ancient Egyptian Brewing Process
The Ancient Egyptian process uses grain in cold water, and separately in hot water, which is combined to ferment.
“In modern brewing all of the grain is processed together in a single mixture, within a very narrow temperature window,” Marks added.
The brewers used a ceramic vessel to mimic the terracotta pots of the Old Kingdom. It took two days to ferment, and the brewers made two batches.
One of which was unflavored and the other was infused with pistachio, rose petal, cumin, coriander, and sesame — the same ingredients the Ancient Egyptians would have had access to.
“When I began this project, I believed that ancient Egyptian beer would be revolting,” Marks said. “I expected a thick, tasteless, gruel-like mixture that was mildly alcoholic. But the brewers on the team thought otherwise and quite rightly they there was no way the Egyptians would be making beer in such quantities if it was not good.
“But to all of our surprise, it didn’t just work, but it was absolutely delicious. It was light and crisp, exactly what you’d want after a day in the hot Egyptian sun.”
You can’t buy the beer just yet, but the team are planning future projects already.
“We’ve had a fair bit of interest in the project from home brewers, which always makes me happy,” Marks said. “There’s been talk of further experiments in association with a university and another series with the British Museum. For the time-being however, Susan, Michaela and I have formed a close team so there’ll be a drink or two in our future that’s for sure.”