“It’s a BYOB afterlife”: A recreation of a beer in a 2,500-year-old grave

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Menfred Rösch and Tanja Kreß sampling the alcoholic deposits left on the cauldron in Tübingen, Germany. Source: NPR, via Bettina Arnold.

Coffins today have human remains and possibly a few personal effects, but in the past people were wise enough to nestle their loved ones with loads of beer.

Fast forward 2,500 years—archaeologists from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and a local brewery recreated the alcoholic contents of a cauldron left inside a grave dating to 400 to 450 B.C. in Germany, according to WUWM in Milwaukee.

Bettina Arnold, an anthropology and archaeology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and her crew excavated the Iron Age grave site in 2000. After Manfred Rösch, a paleo-botanist, sampled the storage container the scientists discovered the alcoholic beverage resembles a braggot—a barley and honey ale—favored with  mint and meadowsweet, Arnold said.

“Luckily for us, they didn’t just send people off to the afterlife with [swords and spears], they also sent them off with the actual beverage. It’s a BYOB afterlife, you know? You have to be able to sort of throw a party when you get there,”Arnold said in the WUWM article.

Cellarmaster Chad Sheridan of Lakefront Brewery rewrote the brew’s recipe and unveiled it to Arnold and her team after two weeks of fermentation.

NPR’s Bonnie North described the drink as “smooth and pleasant — almost like a dry port, but with a minty, herbal tinge to it.

However, Chris Ranson, a Lakefront Brewery employee, told NPR he doesn’t foresee this ancient blend becoming the new favorite of any modern-day beer connoisseurs.

 

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