In a New York Times
feature titled "For Its Latest Beer, a Craft Brewer Chooses an Unlikely Pairing: Archaeology," writer Steven Yaccino covers the efforts by Great Lakes Brewing Co. to replicate a 5,000-year-old Sumerian beer.
"By contemporary standards, it would have been a spoiled batch here at Great Lakes Brewing Company
, a craft beer maker based in Ohio, where machinery churns out bottle after bottle of dark porters and pale ales," the article says. "But lately, Great Lakes has been trying to imitate a bygone era. Enlisting the help of archaeologists at the University of Chicago, the company has been trying for more than year to replicate a 5,000-year-old Sumerian beer using only clay vessels and a wooden spoon."
“How can you be in this business and not want to know from where your forefathers came with their formulas and their technology?” co-owner Pat Conway is quoted in the piece.
Because no detailed recipes have been found, attempts to recreate it have been based upon cuneiform texts and an ancient poem, Hymn to Ninkasi
, that hints at the recipe.
Great Lakes has no plans to sell the beer, but rather use it as an educational exercise. The brewing vessels are a popular addition on the guided tours of the brewery, and they intend to showcase the Sumerian beer at events in Cleveland this summer.
Read more about the process here