January 15, 2020

Beers brewed in ancient Israel to be produced commercially

"If you promise them beer, they will come":
The crowd at the Bible Lands Museum
in Jerusalem hears about the project
to brew beers made with
ancient yeast and original ingredients.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Last year, a team of Israeli archaeologists, microbiologists and brewers announced that they had successfully isolated and cultivated yeast cells found in the pores of ancient clay vessels, excavated in Israel, which were believed to have held beer. 

They then used one of the strains of this yeast (dating back the Philistine period of about 850 BCE) to successfully brew a tasty beer.  This event was announced at a well attended press conference at Beerateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center, which you can read about here.

Prototype bottles of "Ishtar," a mead
made from ancient yeast dating back to the
Persian period, about 500 BCE.

(Photo: Mike Horton)   
Two months ago, a honey mead was introduced to the public which was made with another strain of this ancient yeast -- this one dating back to the Persian period, about 500 BCE.  

It was made public during an event at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.  Mead is made from honey, water and yeast – and this one has a delicious sweet, nutty flavor, with a higher alcoholic content than beer.

At that event, Dr. Michael Klutstein of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, revealed that his laboratory, along with Hebrew University's Yissum Research Development Co., plan to bring three of these ancient beverages to the commercial market: the Philistine beer ("Goliath"), the Persian mead ("Ishtar") and an Egyptian beer made from yeast dating back to about 3100 BCE (tentatively to be called "Narmer," the first pharaoh). 

Dr. Michael Klutstein, a microbiologist at the
Hebrew University - Hadassah
School of Dental Medicine,
announces the project to commercially brew
beers from ancient yeast found in Israel.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
"In the past," Dr. Klutstein told me, "reconstructed ancient beers have been made with what people thought were original ingredients, and modern yeast.  We have made our drinks so far with ancient yeast and modern ingredients.

"But the ancient beverages we brew will have both original yeast and other original ingredients.  This is a first, and this is what we are really excited about."

The importance of this project cannot be underestimated.

Dr. Yitzchak Paz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that this experiment was a real "breakthrough."  "This is the first time we succeeded in producing ancient alcohol from ancient yeast.  In other words, from the original substances from which alcohol was produced.  This has never been done before."

And Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, the head archaeologist of the team, summed it up by proclaiming, "Make no mistake about it.  This is a fantastic find!" 

Dr. Klutstein's team is looking for investors to move this project forward, so if any of you, dear readers, are interested or know someone who might be, please contact me. 

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