A 5,000 Year Old Beer Recipe Has Been Uncovered in Ancient China

Tina Rivera
(Photo: OBSEV / Shutterstock)

Ever wonder what people in Ancient China drank back in the day? According to archaeologists surveying the region, it was a lot of craft beer!

An underground “brewery” was recently unearthed at the Mijiya site in the Shaanxi province of China, with researchers claiming it as the first direct evidence of beer brewing in the Asian country. Dating back to 3400 and 2900 BC, ancient tools used to brew beer left researchers with enough residue to pinpoint the exact beer recipe created over 5,000 years ago. 

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According to the study, the brew was made from a wide range of plants including broomcorn millet, a grain called Job’s tears, snake gourd root, and barley. While barley is a common ingredient found in beer today, researchers were surprised to find traces of the grain, which they thought arrived in China one thousand years after their most recent discovery of beer.

Residue of the recipe was derived from ancient pottery, jars and funnels found in the underground brewery. According to one of the study’s authors, Jiajing Wang, the brew was produced using similar methods modern brewers still use today. “The beer was made by going through three processes, including malting, mashing, and fermentation,” said Wang.

While a 5,000 year old beer recipe is no doubt exciting, researchers of the study can't say whether its flavor would match up to that of a modern brew. “I really have no idea,” said Wang. “That is beyond our research methods.” 

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