China Has Been Brewing Beer for At Least 5000 Years

On May 23, Jiajing Wang of Stanford University reported in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that evidence has been found to suggest that beer has been brewed in China for at least 5000 years.

I'm not sure how popular the beer would have been today, however.

The researchers concluded the beer would have had a sweet flavor, due to the plant minerals and grains detected in its remnants. The ancient recipe includes a combination of broomcorn millet, barley, Job's tears and tubers. While it may not quite match our modern tastes, it is a remarkable find.

The evidence for this was found recently when examining artifacts found in two pits in Northern China in 2004. The pits were deemed to have been constructed by the Yangshao people between the ages of 3400 and 2900 B.C. The pits revealed a range of archeological artifacts, such as pots, amphorae, funnels, and pieces of a stove. This lead the team to conclude it was a brewing operation. Further testing showed the pieces did in fact contain residue of what would appear to be a type of beer.

Why Is It Interesting?

The findings are particularly interesting because this is now the oldest known evidence of barley use in China. It predates the previous evidence by a thousand years. The researchers propose that this indicates that barley, for the production of beer, was the initial driver of the introduction of barley into the nation. They argue this suggests that the Chinese were in fact brewing and consuming beer socially at the time.

Interesting stuff.

Perhaps the people of the past were just like us, after all?

Sarah Bell is a writer based in Seoul.
You can contact her at www.themscript.com.