Ancient Brews with Dr Patrick McGovern – BeerSmith Podcast #153

by Brad Smith on July 31, 2017 · 0 comments

Dr Patrick McGovern, Director of Biomolecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum joins me this week to discuss research into ancient fermented beverages.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (48:58)

  • Today my guest is Dr Patrick McGovern. Dr McGovern is Director of Biomolecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and also an adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the new book Ancient Brews: Re-discovered and Re-created (Amazon affiliate link) and an expert in ancient fermented beverages. His web site is here.
  • We start with a short overview of Dr McGovern’s new book ‘Ancient Brews’.
  • Dr McGovern argues that fermented beverages may be as old as the human species as we are “wired” to enjoy consuming fermented beverages.
  • We discuss “The Midas Site” found at Gordian in Turkey where an ancient tomb was found with traces of ancient beverages.
  • Patrick introduces the concept of an “Extreme Fermented Beverage” which was a combination of honey, grains, fruits and likely spices – similar perhaps to a combination of beer, mead, fruits and spices.
  • We next move to China where he was able to examine shards containing some of the oldest fermented beverages which again turned out to be “extreme fermented beverages”.
  • Dr McGovern shares some details on his book including how it incorporates many recipes meant to simulate the ancient beverages as well as recommendations for foods to enjoy with the drink.
  • We next move to Africa as well as Egypt where there is a very long history of fermented beverages though of a slightly different type. Egypt in particular had well developed brewing methods.
  • We discuss European beverages which were split between a variety of Northern “grogs” (and Nordic grogs) and wines which became more popular in the Mediterranean region and Southern Europe.
  • He shares his findings on native American beverages which were often made by chewing corn to break down the starches instead of mashing.
  • We discuss some of the lessons a modern brewer can take away from the study of ancient fermented beverages.


Thanks to Patric McGovern for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

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