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Research: Chinese brewed beer 5,000 years ago

US and Chinese researchers say they found traces of barley, millet, grain, and tubers used in fermentation.


beer brewing history in china

It was found on pottery discovered in Shaanxi province in northern China during an archaeological dig 10 years ago.


It would be the earliest known instance of beer-making in China and suggest a sophisticated approach.


Published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study also suggested that barley may have been used for booze before being used for food.


The pottery fragments were originally found in an archaeological dig in 2004-2006, but only had their residue analysed by Stanford University researchers in late 2015, confirming earlier speculation by Chinese scholars that they might have been used for brewing.

在2004年至2006年间的一场考古发掘中,研究人员发现了这批陶器碎片,但是直到2015年底斯坦福大学的研究人员才对陶器上的残渣 进行的分析。他们的分析证实了中国学者们早先的猜测,认为这些器具是用来酿酒的。

beer brewing history in china

The find included pots and pottery funnels, covered with a residue of broomcorn millet, barley, a chewy grain known as Job's tears, and tubers.


It also included stoves that could have been used to heat and mash grains, as well as underground spaces that would have kept the brew at a cool, consistent fermentation temperature – and helped stop it going off quickly once it was made.


"The discovery of barley is a surprise," lead author Jiajing Wang of Stanford University told the BBC in an email, as it was previously thought the grain arrived in China 1,000 years later.


"This beer recipe indicates a mix of Chinese and Western traditions – barley from the West; millet, Job's tears and tubers from China."


The latest find would suggest that drinkers in China first began to develop a taste for beer around the same time as people in ancient Egypt and Iran – from where the barley may have come.


The exact taste of the ancient brew will remain a mystery however, as while the scientists say they know what ingredients were used, they don't know the quantities.



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