Historians, scientists, archaeologists and brewers have teamed up to create an accurate version of what is believed to be the first recorded beer recipe.
The project is spearheaded by Great Lakes Brewing Co. (GLBC) co-owner Pat Conway, who was inspired by a visit to the University of Chicago, his alma mater.
Tate Paulette, a doctoral candidate studying Near Eastern languages and civilizations at the university, has been an invaluable resource, providing refined research. The beer recipe is from ancient Sumer. Conway and his team of brewers have used Paulette’s research in order to avoid anachronisms, which has presented unique challenges.
The project is unique in that GLBC brewers have chosen to forego modern conveniences like steel tanks and automated brewing systems in favor of historically accurate implements. Large porcelain vessels were created by pottery students at the University of Chicago, and the brewers have opted to use sunlight and wooden tools for the malting and mashing of the brew.
Bridget Gauntner, GLBC field quality specialist, describes one roadblock encountered during the process. “Obtaining a yeast sample from the Middle East has been difficult. We decided to instead experiment with initiating fermentation using the bappir (barley bread) as our yeast source,” she said. The brewers originally enlisted an archaeologist to collect yeast samples, but he was unable to get the samples past customs.
Trial and error have been important elements of the brewing experiment. The brewers and lab technicians have examined portions of the first batch of beer, in hopes of improving their second attempt in the fall. The September batch of beer will be used for educational purposes only. It will not be bottled or distributed. Conway said his goal for the project is to educate the public and his employees about the origins of beer.
The annual Vintage Ohio Wine Festival takes place at Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland on Aug. 3 and 4.
More than 21 wineries will be represented at the festival, offering samplings of their finest vintages. This year, there will be a Meet the Winemakers Tent, hosted by Marianne Frantz of the American Wine School. The Western Reserve School of Cooking will conduct cooking demonstrations at which one can learn to plan a summer patio party or cook midsummer, Ohio-style French bistro cuisine. A number of area restaurants will offer refreshments, including gourmet food trucks Jibaro, Umami Moto and Zydeco Bistro.
Festival hours are 1 to 10 p.m. each day. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the gate. The ticket price includes entry to the park, a souvenir wine glass and wine samples. Two-day taster tickets are $45. Foodie tickets and designated drivers are $12. Children age 3 to 17 are admitted for $3. Meet the Winemaker VIP tickets are an additional $15. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.ohiowines.org or call 800-227-6972. Lake Metroparks Farmpark is at 8800 Euclid Chardon Road.