It is time for this month’s session! This time, we are tasked with writing on which four people, past or present, we would like to have over for a beer dinner, and which four beers would I serve. Without a doubt, I would invite a student, an entrepreneur, a diplomat, and a dancer. Since these people are all dead, I’m going to go ahead and assume they speak perfect modern English as well.
The Student: I do not know this ancient Egyptian’s name, but he has been forever immortalized by his teacher, who pleaded with his pupil to stop drinking and return to his studies. He writes:
"I am told that thou forsakest books (and) dost abandon thyself to pleasure. Thou dost wander from tavern to tavern. Every evening the smell of beer, the smell of beer frightens men away (from thee). It corrupts thy soul, (and) thou art like a broken oar. Thou canst guide to neither side. Thou art like a temple without a god, (like) a house without bread. Thou art detected as thou climbest up the walls, and breakest the plank. The people flee from thee, and thou dost strike and wound them. O, that thou wouldst comprehend that wine is an abomination and that thou wouldst abjure the pomegranate-drink; that thou wouldst not set thy heart on fig-wine, and that thou wouldst forget the carob-wine.
Now, I am not sure if this guy was a particularly bad student or not, but it is heartwarming to know students have been acting the same way since the start of civilization.
The Entrepreneur: either Elynour Rummyng, Mother Louse or Mother Bunch, or any other alewife lost to history, whoever is available. These women would have started a business in an interesting time, when women in English society were not exactly treated fairly. There was one alewife who was subjected to the false claim that she had leprosy, causing her business to fold. I would imagine the anti-alewife mentality stems from men being afraid of women having power. Yet these women would have known to brew, and brew well, so to talk to them and learn more about their experiences would be something quite unique.
The Diplomat: Sir Kenelm Digby, English courtier and Roman Catholic at the time of the Gunpowder Plot. Sir Digby lived an interesting life, and was even deemed as a reputable philosopher, but more importantly, he wrote a recipe book. The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened. In it are recipes for 17th century pies, pasties, beers, wines and meads. It has served as one of the key resources for studying historic gastronomy. To discuss this with him, and the finer points of brewing, would save years worth of research into historical records.
The Dancer: A woman with no name, dubbed the Egtved Girl. She was a Danish teenager, buried around 1370 BC along with one birch bucket. Residue analysis carried out by Dr. Patrick McGovern and team showed that it had beer made from wheat, honey, bog myrtle and cowberries. Whether this was a beer special for funerals, whether it was consumed, if those ingredients were common etc., could all be answered within a quick dinner side chat.
To limit it only to four beers is a bit tough, as I am sure these guests would like to experience all the ranges of modern brewing. Yet having even 30 minutes of their time would help answer so many questions...and really put me out of a job.
This one was brought to my attention by Merryn Dineley, and talks about a recent archaeological discovery of an old drying kiln. Although there is no mention of brewing, it was more than likely used to make malt.
A recent study makes the claim that the short dormancy periods in barley is more ideal for beer brewing.
"The wild barley’s long dormancy means that, initially, the grain will not germinate in response to transient moisture availability and will therefore survive hot, dry summers. As a result seeds like wild-type barley that undergo a long state of “dormancy” at maturity – during which they will not germinate –are favoured for food crops. In contrast a short dormancy is more efficient and preferable for beer making."
Things have cooled (or at least the fear has subsided) down this week, but still hard to wrap my head around whats been going on back home. Time to get back to researching and writing! Anyhow, your weekly history links:
A few links from vimeo which document the current pub scene in Britain.
"The similarity in tone of these films and others — wistful, slightly sad — says something about how the pub is viewed in 21st Century Britain. We suppose it’s because it feels fragile or endangered as an institution that people feel motivated to document it, while they still can."
The history behind the American Brewing Company in St. Louis.
"One might think A.B.C. was a small player in 1903. Not the case. Kargau correctly explains that most businesses which gain success do so over a lengthy period, but there are “exceptions” and A.B.C. was one. As he showed, St. Louis actually counted fewer breweries in 1903 than 1860, when no less than 40 dotted the city. The reason was telling: the scale and technological sophistication required of brewing by turn of the century meant the future was for large, well-capitalized concerns. Small players could not survive, they hadn’t the time to grow slowly over decades."
Although this doesn't divulge into brewing history, it is a nice short piece on the political situation in the US and the brewing industry.
"But it's worth mentioning, on a week in which it at least feels like we've had a political earthquake, that elections do matter. And they can affect things as remote and unconcerned with politics as beer. We know this because the beers we drink were in so many ways shaped by politics, near and distant. The history of beer is a political one."
"Modern-day pub crawlers, you have nothing on them.
The drinks described up to dinner point are various: whiskey, Champagne, sparkling burgundy (a pre-Pro favourite in America). But the group itself posed finally the obvious question: where’s the beer, we’re in Milwaukee!"
"On the 8th and 9th of September (2016) our whole project team headed over to Sussex to participate in a ‘Knowledge Exchange Workshop’ with the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. In basic terms this involved us telling museum workers some of our findings about work activities in early modern England, and in turn them showing us how some of the activities would have been done in the period. The event was fascinating and fun in equal measure, and I wanted to take the opportunity in this blog to provide a brief account of some of the highlights and offer some thoughts on how this type of interaction between ‘academic history’ and ‘living history’ can be particularly fruitful."
The folks over at Boak & Bailey's graciously indulged my question as to why "the cask hand-pump system didn’t develop in mainland Europe? Or am I missing something?" It's something I've always wondered, since its so prolific in England. Yet, as usual, the rabbit hole goes much deeper.
Breweries and distillers during the 1800s used to produce books discussing the history and evolution of their business. Although it was simply a marketing tactic, has proved to be an invaluable source of information about brewing history. This takes a look at a book “ from the former P. Ballantine & Sons, now part of Pabst. It has its own twist, however: the theme of revisiting the “inn” or “tap-room” of 1840. That was the year the brewery relocated to larger premises in Newark, NJ from its start in Albany, NY seven years before.”
The announcement of a new book on the brewing history in Burton from Ian Webster. If you have memories of living with and working at Burton's breweries from any time from the 1940s to the 1980s, contact Ian Webster on 01283 343323, email email@example.com or find the groups on social media.
As stated by Brookstone Beer Bulletin:The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. This month The Session is hosted by Beer Meets Business, who would like to know what we think we will see more of in the future of craft beer. Tough topic, as it 's hard to separate what I want to see and what will actually happen.
What we will see
The same. We will see new breweries popping up, offering the same flashy keywords they need to deliver to attach themselves to the craft beer market. Whether they're brewing hop-forward beers to make the next great IPA, sessionable beers for drinkability, or wild ales to capture a region’s terroir, the craft beer market is still a niche. There is still plenty of room for other brewers to come in, and each will find a way to brew beer in their own way. Essentially, the boring answer is, the brewing industry will carry on as normal. Breweries have bought other breweries in the past, others have brewed the most popular style, while others were dedicated to ‘traditional’ beers. So, I guess we’re at the new age of the normalization of the brewing industry.
I’m not trying to be pessimistic. The more the merrier, as they say. It’s just, looking at history, shake-ups in the brewing industry only come once in a long while. Look at Egypt; they had a (seemingly) continuous brewing culture for 3,000 years until the Greeks came and messed it all up (apologies to Brewing Classical). But really, the biggest changes to European beer have been the industrialization of brewing, the proliferation of hops, Pasteur’s work on S. cerevisiae and the advent of lager beer. One could make the argument too that all-brett beers are the newest form of beer, but that remains to be seen.
What we will see is more proliferation of indigenous brewing styles and brewing recreations. When so many breweries are seeking to distinguish themselves, they’re forced to look at how they approach brewing. One easy way to do this is to look to other countries who’ve developed their own brewing culture. In parts of Africa and India, for example, it is tradition to pour hot water over a communal batch of beer, so drinkers have a constant source to drink. Whether this is to Western tastes is one thing, but to adopt it and use it as a source of inspiration would, I find, bring great variety.
This won’t happen anytime soon, as the research isn’t out quite yet. But things are moving in brewing archaeology and history, which I think will bring great innovation to the industry. To be fair, and to add a bit of skepticism to my dream, people typically say the beers aren't superb. Or they're good, but not great. The most recent rendition stated the beers were interesting but wouldn’t be to the public’s taste. I'm just waiting for the day a brewery takes history as the inspiration, and brings it up to date.
But, these aren’t new things, just revivals. So, I’m afraid the future of craft beer is simply more of the same.
Beer is not confined to malted barley, hops and water as the reinheitsgebot would have you believe. Nor should it be limited to locally sourced barley and wheat and whatever the brewer found at the farmers market. If you define beer as any fermented beverage whose sugars are derived from cereals, it leaves room for much more experimentation.
The easiest place for inspiration is our collective past. In Africa alone, it is said to have hundreds of beer styles. Plus, these indigenous alcoholic beverages account for 80% of consumption in rural Africa. However, these traditions are difficult to study given the negative influence of colonialism, no written record before European involvement, and the importation of foreign brands. Plus, the details that do exist remain unclear.
Despite this, one tradition I find fascinating is the use of bananas in brewing.
Enter mbege, a banana beer brewed by the Chaga (Chagga, Wachaga) people in Tanzania. The Chaga tribe are within the Bantu-speaking group and the third largest ethnic group in Tanzania. Traditionally, they live on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro where the environment is highly suitable for agriculture. Although best known for Arabica coffee, the Chaga’s main crop is the banana which they use for cooking, brewing, and fruit.
Production is divided into three steps: Nyalu preparation, Mso preparation, followed by the mixing step.
Nyalu refers to fermented banana juice, which serves as the primary source for fermentative organisms. In the Chaga tribe, this is done by cooking a 1:1 ratio of ripened bananas to water. This mixture is then cooked over high temperature until the liquid turns red and no more clumps remain. This is then filtered and left to ferment (via open fermentation) for 9 - 12 days, depending on the season.
Prior to fermentation, some brewers add powdered bark (called Msesewe) to the liquid. This bark, derived from the Rauvolfia caffra tree, provides a level of bitterness and aids in fermentation. In previous studies, it was seen that tannins from Mangrove tree bark serve as a protective agent against microbial infection, except for yeast.
It is said that Nyalu produced with msesewe will finish fermenting within five days, due to the protective effects of the bark. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also served as an inoculant, given that some yeasts thrive on trees.
The Chaga method of banana juice production seems to be one of the few that cook bananas to extract liquid. Other methods of banana juice production are to mash ripe bananas in a trough, removing the liquid through sieves of grass or banana leaves. For example, the Haya (a now disbanded kingdom in Tanzania) usually press bananas to extract liquid. It is unclear which method of juice extraction is best. It is entirely possible, though, that one method provides a different flavor than the other.
Once the Nyalu is close to finishing, the mso is prepared. Mso is simply an unfermented wort derived from malted finger millet. This is done by heating water and adding a small fraction of ground millet. Once it reaches temperature, roughly half of the liquid is removed and set aside. Then, the rest of the malted millet is added to the mix.
This is then cooked for 25 minutes. The amylase present in millet is operative between 50 - 70 C (after which it denatures). To control temperature and thickness of the mash, the extracted liquid is added back to the mixture. If normal water was used, it would drop the temperature too low, thus stopping the mashing process. Plus, using the liquid Mso extract serves as a way to thin the mash in case it gets too thick. After the mash, the liquid is then moved to separate containers to cool.
Once cood, nyalu and mso are mixed in a barrel. The resultant liquid is called togwa and left to ferment. Even after 6 hours, alcohol levels will rise to around 2.5%, but if left to ferment for two days, alcohol levels should reach roughly 4% abv. It is assumed that nyalu serves as the primary source for yeast, given that it is the only liquid left to ferment separately.
The main fermentative organisms responsible were found to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Lactobacillus plantarum.
Mbege beer recipe
In a previous study, the following amounts were reported:
70l Water (35l reserved for Nyalu, 35l reserved for malted finger millet)
35l of Ripened Banana
20l of malted finger millet
Therefore, water to banana juice is 1:1, and for water to malt is roughly 1:3. If you were to attempt brewing mbege, then keeping these ratios should result in a solid recreation of the brew.
Determining the amount of bananas required to produce adequate levels of juice have so far gone unreported. Further complicating this issue is the amount of banana cultivars present in Tanzania. In a previous study, a total of 18 varieties were reported, yet the total number is well over 100, with some names being synonyms and homonyms. Not much is known how nomenclature is derived, thus causing one of the biggest problems in classifying banana varieties. Plus in Tanzania, the farming of bananas is largely for local consumption, and so are bred to meet local tastes. Thus, choosing the right kind of banana to replicate this drink proves difficult. It is not as simple as just choosing cooking bananas, which are less sweet. Even more discouraging (but cool at the same time), there are banana cultivars specified for brewing. So locating the right type of banana may be impossible.
Plus finger millet might be hard to come by, despite the advent of gluten-free beer. Yet I imagine it would be easier to acquire than the right kind of banana.
Traditional Chaga hut
Difficulties in studying mbege
Keep a dose of healthy skepticism when reviewing articles on mbege production. There is not much out there in regards to academic publishing. When there is, citing is somewhat scarce. For example, most just claim that the Chaga people are the founders of mbege, yet do not link it to other banana-based beverages. Given the diversity of tradition among tribes, mbege production might vary between groups within Tanzania, so observations of brewing might be tribe-specific. Plus, it is unclear whether the Chaga learned to make mbege on their own, or was taught to them by neighboring groups.
European influences also have to be taken into account. In the early 1900s, British officials, scientists, missionaries, and settlers collectively condemned finger millet. They attempted to convince Chaga farmers of millet’s immorality, lack of market value, among others. At first, this advice was ignored, but by the 1980s, millet was only found sporadically. This, coupled with the fact that the written record for the Chaga people doesn’t begin until roughly 1850 skews historical accuracy. Still, this is a general overview of the practice and should be a decent representation of the tradition.
I find one of the more inspirational takeaways is the banana juice as the source for inoculation, and finger millet as the source of simple sugars. With styles that have multiple sources of sugars, it would be interesting to experiment with a mbege-like fermentation profile (i.e. ferment one, use the other as sugars and vice versa). One such example would be the braggot, a barley-honey brew. Most braggot recipes I have come across state to mix both the barley wort and honey then ferment. It would be interesting to ferment the mead first, then add wort to see if that influences flavor.
It is necessary to record methods of production of mbege and indigenous beverages on the whole, due to the anthropological role they play. IAB’s are accepted forms of payment for labor, are a source of income for women and provide an excellent source of nutrition. Thus, it is imperative to record their production techniques to preserve its place within humans material culture.
Carlson, R. G. 1990. Banana beer, Reciprocity, and Ancestor Propitiation among the Haya of Bukoba, Tanzania. Source Ethnol. 29: 297–311.
Kubo, R. 2014. Production of indigenous alcoholic beverages in a rural village of Tanzania. J. Inst. Brew. doi:10.1002/jib.127
Kubo, R., and M. Kilasara. 2016. Brewing Technique of Mbege, a Banana Beer Produced in Northeastern Tanzania. Beverages 2: 21. doi:10.3390/beverages2030021
Mwesigye, P. K., and T. O. Okurut. 1995. A Survey of the Production and Consumption of Traditional Alcoholic Beverages in Uganda. Process Biochem. doi:10.1016/0032-9592(94)00033-6
Platt, B. S. 2016. Some Traditional Alcoholic Beverages and their Importance in Indigenous African Communities. Quart. J. Stud. AZc. Nutr. Rev. Lancet Voeding Brit. med.J. i Arch. NeuroZ. Psychiat. Chicago Lancet 14: 257–287. doi:10.1079/PNS19550026
Shayo, N. B., S. A. M. Nnko, A. B. Gidamis ’, and V. M. Dillon2. 1998. Assessment of cyanogenic glucoside (cyanide) residues in Mbege: an opaque traditional Tanzanian beer. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 49: 333–338.
"There's a story that ancient Egyptians, around 3000 years ago, may have made their malt by putting grain into baskets, then lowering the basket into a deep well. The basket could be raised and lowered, effectively steeping the grain. It would germinate in the basket and was shaken at regular intervals to prevent the rootlets from matting."
A history of the elusive Calvert family tree and how they entered into the brewing world by purchasing two of the largest porter breweries in 19th century London.
“Under Feast the brewery thrived: he was called “a great Brewer in White Cross Street” in 1716, when he gave away 400 chaldron of coals – around 570 tons – to “such poor people that he found were great Sufferers, and were hindered from Working by the hard Frost.” The Peacock pub, the brewery tap in Whitecross Street, was called a “House of Humming Stingo” by Ned Ward in his London pub guide of circa 1718, the Vade Mecum for Malt Worm. In 1723 Feast was elected one of the two Sheriffs of London, and, as was usual with sheriffs, he was knighted by the King, in January 1724.”
An analysis of the British switch to pure yeast cultures and the works of H. Lloyd Hind
“Hind stated that one or two brewers used mixed strains composed of selected pure yeasts, but even that was a distance from what Hansen urged of English brewers. Most stuck with their old system. This had its risks with the seeming oddity – it depends how you look at it – that at different times of the year the strain would differ in composition. This implied the beer was better at some times than others. All this resulted from ancestral methods of yeast “management” and that most plants then were not sterile in the modern sense. Guinness for example didn’t change to fully sterile plant until after World War II.”
A look at recipes found in medical texts from the high middle ages.
"One such instance is found in the herbal Anglicanus Ortus (“The English Garden”), written by Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon in England, around the year 1135. His herbal is arranged in six books, which contain a total of 160 different herbs and spices, all described in Latin verse (usually with one poem for each herb)."
Classical antiquity covers the period from the publication of Homer to the fall of the Roman empire, roughly 800 BC to 500 AD. As most are aware, the Greeks and Romans were adamant wine drinkers. Thus, when the Romans decided to write about their barbaric neighbors, they normally were not kind in their judgments of the barbarian's habit for beer drinking. So literary evidence from the era stems from those who normally didn't consume it, creating an interesting dynamic of 'Us vs them'.
In researching the history of beer, it is inevitable to come across such texts. However, most articles on the matter omit the translations, leaving the reader to trust in the researcher's interpretations. That is why the Brewing Classical Styles (BCS) blog is awesome. They’re bringing the primary literature to light, thus making the sources available to all. Plus, they brew some interesting styles to boot, like an all lentil beer.
Kyle is based in Illinois, USA. He started the blog, is the main author and the “brains” of the operation. Kimberley is based near Amsterdam, Netherlands. She does the social media and is now a regular contributor because all the cool beer festivals and Classically-themed beers in the Low Countries are too good for BCS to miss!
Via the power of the internet, I had a brief online conversation to get to know Kyle and Kimberley a little bit better:
Have any favorite beer at the moment?
Kyle: Anything without lentils. Actually, I typically don’t have a “favorite beer,” because I rarely more than one or two of the same beer (there are too many great ones out there!). I recently had Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov and loved it.
Kimberley: My favorite is EigthFive-0 American Pale Ale by Proof Brewing Co. Kyle used to live in Tallahassee so we had easy access, but now sadly no more. He promised to save me one though!
Kyle: Although I love heavy stouts and Belgian quads, I find myself gravitating towards lower ABV beers (you can drink more!) like English ales, pale ales, and sours.
Kimberley: (India) Pale Ale and, dare I say it, Pumpkin beers. I don’t like some IPAs, particularly not fond of the dank flavor that is all the rage these days and overly bitter brews so my go to is to first get the Pale Ales on draft. Definitely a fan of the citrus and tropical flavors that some IPAs have and I have to admit that I am one of those girls who loves pumpkin-spice-anything, so that includes beer. Actually, Kyle is brewing me some pumpkin beers as we speak!
What got you interested in beer history/Greco-Roman history?
Kyle: I’ve always loved ancient Greece and Rome and I wanted to be an archaeologist since my childhood. Beer is a relatively new passion of mine that has only increased since I started homebrewing. Despite the relative popularity of beer-history, there are not many resources available to the general public on ancient Greek and Roman brews. Most publications are general syntheses and omit primary sources. I became curious about the literary evidence and decided to start the blog. My main area of research is not ancient beer, so the blog is as much a document of my own discovery of the literature.
Foreshadowing my foray into ancient beers: in college – many years ago – I took an “Ancient Technology” course. We had the option to recreate any ancient technology for the class’s final project. A buddy and I decided to brew ancient beer. We read the “Hymn to Ninkasi” and many ancient Egyptian and Sumerian references before trying our hand at brewing. The result was absolutely revolting. Now that I know how to brew, I realize how many absurd mistakes were made for that project. It never even entered my mind that one could make real beer in his/her house until many years later.
Kimberley: Well, for me it was archaeology before anything really. During my studies, Classical Greece and Rome were part of the course work, but I chose to specialize in Aegean prehistory instead. So for me personally, Classical Greece and Rome used to be what I had to wade through to get to the good parts! Kyle is the one that got me into craft beers and recently, the beer history of the Greco-Roman world! Through his blog I am rediscovering all these places and times that I had to learn about during my undergrad and it turns out, the Classical world is far more interesting than I used to think! Nothing beats the Bronze Age though ;-)
What was your dissertation about?
Kyle: Identity and architecture in the Greek Bronze Age. Although the topic is unrelated to beer, beer was necessary for its completion.
Kimberley: I am still writing up my PhD dissertation at the moment and it is about the question how connections between Greece and Italy could continue after a big crisis hit the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean around 1200 BC. To this purpose, I mainly study bronze objects and ceramics that indicate these connections in Greece, but for comparative purposes I also look at Greek ceramics in southern Italy. So no beer (yet)!
Been on any digs recently?
Kyle: I used to dig/survey very frequently (3-4 projects/summer). However, I have begun to focus more on studying material that was already excavated.
Kimberley: Sadly no. The dissertation has kept me away from excavating lately. My last project was the Mitrou Archaeological Project, which was already in the post-excavation study season when I joined. It’s actually where Kyle and I met.
What was beer's role (if any) within Greco-Roman society?
Kyle: Beer had the stigma of being a “barbarian’s” drink or a drink that was popular on the fringes of the Roman empire. There are several great books about the social role of beer in ancient society. As a result, I try to avoid this avenue of study. In fact, the main purpose of the blog is to make the primary sources on which these studies are based accessible to the general public so that the reader can draw his/her own conclusions.
Kimberley: Kyle is the expert here, because he’s the one that started researching beer in ancient Greece and Rome recently and founded the blog. The reason I joined initially was to help him out with social media. My role has since evolved to that of regular contributor, but so far I’ve been mainly doing reviews of modern, Classics-inspired beers rather than doing the in-depth research of beer in the ancient world. When I visit him in December, I may become more active on the research side because the plan is I will be helping him out with the experimental brewing project.
Was it made at home, or only for barbarian-soldiers (as those stationed at Hadrian's Wall)?
Kyle: It was certainly not a drink reserved for barbarian-soldiers. The true scale of production (especially outside of Britain) is hard to determine due to the lack of relevant sources and problems identifying brewing spaces in the archaeological record.
Kimberley: Well, they have recently been finding these brew houses in the UK from Roman times in the south, far away from Hadrian’s wall. So far, the reports do not make a connection with Roman forts or soldiers; one site (Wood Burcote) appears to be on the road to a larger Roman town (Towcester) and there are some speculations about it being an inn or pub of some sorts, while the other (Boxford) appears to be located in the countryside, not too far away from a Roman villa. In these instances, it appears too early to tell whether you can really speak of a domestic mode of production, but the location alongside an important road to a larger town could perhaps hint at production that was not (only) geared towards supplying the soldiers in the north. Hopefully, more extensive reports on these sites will clarify the situation.
Is the case study done by Dr. Lindy Crewe and Dr. Ian Hill ("Finding Beer in the Archaeological Record: A Case Study from Kissonerga-Skalia on Bronze Age Cyprus")
Kyle: The 2013 article about this is very detailed and comprehensive. It is a fascinating read! However, I have not personally studied this material and, as a matter of course, I do not feel comfortable commenting on the interpretations.
Kimberley: The article presents a compelling case but, as the authors themselves readily admit, it is based on circumstantial evidence that could also be explained in a different manner. I thoroughly enjoyed their interpretation of the plastic decoration on those Cypriot vases as representing the activities taking place in a brewery as a way to support their case for having excavated a drying kiln used for making beer. It certainly is an interesting hypothesis!
I have read before that the Romans most likely improved the production models of beer, given their expertise with wine making. Is there any evidence for that (artefacts or otherwise)?
Kyle: To my knowledge, there is no definitive evidence that proves this. I would be very interested to read any articles to the contrary. My primary research interest relates to different modes of production and the transfer of technological knowledge – a related area of study.
Kimberley: That’s a very interesting idea that seems to counter the notion that beer was only reserved for barbarian soldiers.
Whose research do you think doesn't get enough recognition?
Kyle: This is a very difficult question. There are different types of “recognition” – especially between academia and the general public. Research that is very popular within the field may never make it to the popular media because it often is not “exciting” from the public’s perception. Alternatively, popular finds that appear on new sites may take years before full research and publications are prepared. Only then can academics understand the full significance and integrate into their own research.
Kimberley: Kyle definitely has a point here. Hopefully, one day the blog can grow to become a medium that bridges the gap between what’s popular in the media and what’s popular in academia – at least as far as beer in the Greco-Roman world is concerned.
Where do you see the research going in the next few years?
Kyle: Beer is becoming a much more popular direction of study. Its importance in popular culture and the development of more advanced scientific techniques have helped to make beer history and beer archaeology to become almost “trendy.” I would not be surprised if there are more discoveries/identification of ancient breweries.
Kimberley: It’s already happening! Two Roman breweries in one month, now we just need some Greek ones!
Is there anything people should be more involved with / discussing at the moment?
Kyle: The most important thing is public support of the Humanities. Go to lectures/public talks (the Archaeological Institute of America has public lecture series at regional chapters throughout the USA), enroll in courses at your local universities (or declare a major!), learn foreign and ancient languages, travel to museums and sites of archaeological importance, and keep trying to learn more. I guarantee you will find the relevance of Classics, a Classical education, and archaeology, regardless of your profession/hobby.