Iron Age beer-making analyzed at dig

STUTTGART, Germany, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A German researcher says ancient grain found at an Iron Age Celtic settlement dating to around 500 B.C. is left over from a sophisticated beer-making operation.

Hans-Peter Stika, an archaeobotanist from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, says grains of charred barley found in six oblong ditches showed the inhabitants were producing high quality barley malt used in making beer, reported Monday.


Stika says he's concluded the ditches were used to soak barley grains until they sprouted, after which fires were lit at each end to dry the grains and give them a dark color and smoky flavor.

Seeds of henbane, a plant known to increase the intoxicating effect, were found in the excavations of the Iron Age settlement at Eberdingen-Hochdorf, north of Stuttgart.

Fermentation was probably produced by yeast on the brewing equipment, or by wild yeast on honey or fruit added to the brew, Stika says. The final beer would have been cloudy with a yeasty sediment and drunk at room temperature.

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