Beer is one man-made item that sits on the shelf beside such inventions as iron, the printing press and electricity when it comes to the significance it has had on shaping the lives of people over the course of history. Though it may not have led to any scientific revelations (or may have?), it’s been present in cultures all over the world for thousands of years. Much is known about how beer has made its way from the medieval days to the place it holds in the present day, but as far as ancient beer brewing goes, there’s still much to be learned.
One new discovery has archaeologists digging up a 3500-year-old microbrewery in Cyprus. Dating from the Bronze Age, the site contains a kiln used for malting, pottery for storage, tools of various sorts and several other items that suggest that people back then were just as much the craft beer snobs that we are today. They found evidence of organics that would have been used in the flavoring of beers, meaning that “beer-flavored beer” wasn’t the only thing that people enjoyed after a long day’s labor.
Back in the day, beer was considered to be the healthier alternative to other foods. People often drank beer instead of water, due to the lack of precautions involved in the maintenance of clean water and a distinctively underwhelming sewer system. It wasn’t just an excuse to get drunk, this belief, but an actual fact of the times. Laws regarding its use or warnings to people about the damage it could cause weren’t a high priority. And so these microbreweries popped up wherever people created a demand.
Who knows? Maybe such finds will lead brewers in the modern age to rediscover some of the lost arts of creating unique and tasty brews. If only for that, digging up the past is worth it. Now, if only they could get the beer companies to sponsor such digs, we might be able to kill two birds with one stone.