Taste of Ancient Beer

All hail American education. A class of students at Stanford University recently recreated beer using a 5,000-year-old recipe, thereby enlightening modern man on how ancient humans were getting their buzz on.

The students weren’t just doing this on their own. It was the homebrewing assignment made of college dreams given out by professor Li Liu. Liu was a member of the team that discovered the ancient Chinese beer recipe last year, and she tasked the students in her Archaeology of Food: Production, Consumption and Ritual class with recreating history. Unfortunately, history doesn’t taste all that great.

“The ancient Chinese beer looked more like porridge and likely tasted sweeter and fruitier than the clear, bitter beers of today,” the Stanford news service writes. The brew is a potty yellow color with unfiltered grains sitting at the bottom of the glass jars it was made in. Students put straws into the liquid to taste it, avoiding the “white mold-like layers” floating on top.

5000 year old beer

Sound gross? Well, it’s easier to love something that you created yourself. The students started with the recipe, which included millet, barley, yam, lily root, and Job’s tears (a type of grass, not what comes out of your face after work every night). Then they malted the grain (put water over it until the grain sprouted), and crushed the seeds afterward. They then heated it for an hour in the oven (called mashing), and sealed it with plastic. One week later their baby was ready for tasting.

It wasn’t all drinks and good times, though. Liu will eventually incorporate the recipe recreations in a final research paper about ancient brews. Education, after all, is the main goal at American universities. Watch the full tasting below.