Researchers Find 5000-Year-Old Brewery in China

'Beer Foam Closeup'

Scientists unearthed a 5,000-year-old facility that was probably used for beer-making purposes in the Central Plain of China.

Archeologists have found some of the world’s oldest tools to manufacture beer in China. Researchers discovered 5,000-year-old “beer-making tool kits” that are older than the dynasties. The tools were stored in underground rooms in the Central Plain of China.

Researchers speculate that the recently found jugs, pots, and funnels were used to brew, filtrate, and store the liquor. Scientists were stunned to learn that the ancient Chinese had such an advanced knowledge of making beer.

The tools suggest that 5,000 years ago Chinese beer makers already had specialized tools and precise beer-making techniques at their disposal. For example, they used a pottery stove to convert carbohydrates into sugar. The cool, underground rooms were probably employed to store the alcoholic beverage and control temperatures.

Researchers explained that keeping a constant temperature is crucial to prevent beer from getting spoiled as enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars do not tolerate high temperatures.

Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum who wasn’t involved in the discovery believes that ancient beer makers used the same techniques as today’s breweries.

Archaeologists reported that they found traces of ancient grains in the 5,000-year-old containers. Laboratory analysis showed that the grains had been mashed and malted beforehand, so they were probably used to make beer.

Scientists also used ion chromatography to decipher the ingredients of the millennia-old beer recipe. The recipe was published early this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the research paper, the Chinese beer contained a combination of barley, Job’s tears, and broomcorn millet, and sugary parts of various plants to add more sugar to the mixture.

Study authors believe that the ancient beer was both a little sugary and sour, but they aren’t quiet sure. They were shocked to find traces of barley in the ancient beer jugs. Until now, no traces of barley were found in China so early. It is also a mystery how and when the grain made it to the country.

Archaeologists estimate that barley might have arrived to China from Western Eurasia for beer-making purposes. The ancient Egypt also used the cereal to produce beer at the time.

Laboratory tests showed that the traces of Chinese beer are as old as the oldest barley beer from Iran and beer-mashing tools in the ancient Egypt.

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