Archaeologists to demonstrate ancient brewing


Last summer, two Galway archaeologists proposed a theory which made worldwide headlines.

They suggested that one of the most common archaeological monuments in the Irish landscape may have been used for brewing a Bronze Age Beer (Click Here).

The two archaeologists will demonstrate and discuss their experiments and research (and distribute tasters of the brew) into the enigmatic site that is the fulacht fiadh at the World Archaeological Congress - 'Fringe' - at UCD[1].

Billy Quinn and Declan Moore - two archaeologists with Moore Archaeological & Environmental Services (Moore Group) in Galway - believe that an extensive brewing tradition existed in Ireland as far back as 2500 BC. These ubiquitous monuments - which are visible in the landscape as small, horseshoe-shaped grass-covered mounds - have been conventionally thought of by archaeologists as ancient cooking spots, saunas or industrial sites.

However, Quinn and Moore believe that they may have also been used as breweries. According to Quinn - "the tradition of brewing in Ireland has a long history. We think that the fulacht may have been used as a kitchen sink - for cooking, dying, many uses - but that a primary use was the brewing of ale."

The two set out to investigate their theory in a journey which took them across Europe in search of further evidence. To prove their theory, Quinn and Moore set out to recreate the process. They used an old wooden trough filled with water and added heated stones. After achieving an optimum temperature of 60-70C, they began to add milled barley and, after approx 45 minutes, simply baled the final product into fermentation vessels.

They added natural wild flavourings (taking care to avoid anything toxic or hallucinogenic) and then added yeast after cooling the vessels in a bath of cold water for several hours.

According to Moore - "including the leftover liquid, we could easily have produced up to 300 litres of this most basic ale".

Through their experiments, they discovered that the process of brewing ale in a fulacht using hot rock technology is a simple process. To produce the ale took only a few hours, followed by a few-days wait to allow for fermentation.

For additional information on ancient Irish beer, contact Declan or Billy or - Click Here - alternatively, visit Moore Group's blog - Click Here

To view a selection of photographs - Click Here

[1] Ireland is hosting the Sixth World Archaeological Congress from 29th June to 4th July 2008, to be held in Dublin - Click Here