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Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: May 22, 2019 09:46PM
They used hops as flavorings. More accurate flavorings for ancient wheat beer coming soon.
(and you'll be able to buy it eventually)



Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
[www.timesofisrael.com]

In a multi-layered, interdisciplinary long-term experiment, scientists isolated six yeast strains from 21 sherds of beer or wine vessels excavated from four ancient Holy Land sites. Once populated by Philistines, Canaanites, Egyptians, or Judeans, the sites include biblical Tell es-Safi/Gath (ca. 850 BCE), Bronze Age En-Besor in the Negev and an Egyptian brewery found in Tel Aviv’s Ha-Masger Street (both ca. 3100 BCE), and Jerusalem’s Ramat Rachel (ca. 8th to 4th century BCE).

After DNA sequencing and other high-tech medical imaging and identification methods, the six isolated strains of viable yeast were successfully revitalized and used to brew potable “ancient beers.” Each brew had a different aromas depending upon the yeast strain, according to the recent peer-reviewed mBio journal paper “Isolation and Characterization of Live Yeast Cells from Ancient Vessels as a Tool in Bio-Archaeology.”

The experiment was initiated by Dr. Ronen Hazan, a microbiologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Dental Sciences and School of Dental Medicine and his biologist colleague Michael Klutstein, alongside brewmaster Itai Gutman, who at the time owned a brewery in Jerusalem. Eventually, the scope of the project grew to include archaeologists and other scholars from the Hebrew University, the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University.
Microbiologist Dr. Ronen Hazan presents research of the use of thousands of year old yeast to produce new batches of ‘ancient beer,’ on May 22, 2019 in Jerusalem. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

“We are talking about a real breakthrough here. This is the first time we have managed to produce ancient alcohol from ancient yeast. In other words, from the original substances from which alcohol was produced. This has never been done before,” said archaeologist Dr. Yitzhak Paz from the Israel Antiquities Authority in a press release.

Further elaborating to The Times of Israel, Paz said, “This is the first time that living yeast were actually extracted, identified and recreated from ancient pottery vessels, and furthermore, they were used in producing alcoholic beverages that were consumed in ancient times. This groundbreaking research opens ways to other endeavors that will identify ancient remains of foodstuffs in ancient vessels and will recreate them.”

Initiator Hazan’s core work at Hadassah is much more sober than this current experiment may imply: He is microbiologist who mainly works with bacteriophages (viruses of bacteria).

Hazan told The Times of Israel ahead of the paper’s media launch that the project is the fulfillment of a longtime dream to collaborate with archaeologists. “It was fun for us to work for a change in such a multidisciplinary environment of biologists, archaeologists and crazy beer makers — not to mention also all the beer and fun alongside the research,” he added.

Part of the fun, he said, was working and brainstorming with his students, including Tzemach Aouizerat, who isolated the ancient yeast strains from the clay pottery vessels’ tiny nano-pores. After the strains were purified and DNA sequenced, Dr. Amir Szitenberg from the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center aided in its analysis and found that some of the ancient strains were similar to modern yeast, or those used today in traditional African beers.

In a melding of science and craft brewing, the isolated yeasts were separately brewed with the help of the beer expert Guttman, using the same standard modern recipe. The resulting brews had vastly differing tastes: During fermentation, the different yeasts emit different gases with flavors or aromas based upon their genetic makeup and original source.

In the next step of the experiment, the scientists isolated these ingredients from the gas produced in the yeasts’ fermentation to understand what was potentially in the original brew the organisms were used in thousands of years ago.

According to the IAA press release, the beers’ flavors and fragrances were chemically analyzed by Dr. Eliyashiv Drori from Ariel University, as well as a team of certified tasters on behalf of the International Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) led by Shmuel Nakai.

The two pottery beer jugs unearthed from the excavation at Tell es-Safi/Gath do not look like German beer steins. They are rounded, vase-like vessels, with a spout emanating from the clay body. Behind the spout are holes like one would see on the end of a modern watering can, which would have partially filtered the brew. The majority of the beer produced in the study was produced from yeast found on these jugs.

Beer was a basic commodity in the ancient world and was consumed by rich, poor, adults and children, according to Paz, as well as used in religious ritual. As indicated by the ancient strainer-stein, ancient beer was not the clear amber substance we recognize today and it would have been filled with sediment, and produced from a variety of grains, including millet, corn, sorghum, and wheat.
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Drink up!

The single-cell organism yeast comes in over 1,500 strains and occurs naturally in a variety of habitats, including in salty seas, in soil, and between sweaty toes. Many wines utilize the yeast found on grape skins, but others intentionally add different strains to produce different flavors or effects.

Until relatively recently in human history, when commercial production began around the turn of the 20th century, the strains were isolated by trial and error. Those yeast strains that were found suitable for brewing or baking were often carefully guarded in “starters,” usually a soupy mix of active yeasts. Today, sourdough bread is still baked using this principle.

According to the experiment’s paper, the scientists took 12 samples from two well-preserved Philistine jugs. Each of these vessels yielded a yeast strain, designated TZPlpvs7 — which turned out to be a member of the family isolated from traditional African beers brewed with sorghum malt — and TZPlpvs2 — which turned out to be Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the most commonly used species of domesticated yeast for modern beer, wine, and bread industries.
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Just how authentic is the taste of these reconstructed ancient brews?

“This is very tricky,” admitted Hazan. “Beside the fact that we used modern ingredients, keep in mind that we managed to isolate only few yeast out of probably many more which were in the original beer sourdough. Thus, we do not know what was exactly the taste.”

Archaeologist Paz said all the strains were “drinkable.” As far as how close they were to the authentic ancient brews, he said, “The point is that the most important ingredient, yeast, is ancient, and since the product was very close to beers that are known today in Ethiopia and elsewhere, we believe that the flavor we achieved is very close if not identical to the one that was known in ancient times.”
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: May 22, 2019 10:24PM
No hieroglyphics from Egyptian hipsters reviewing their micro brews?



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: S. Pupp
Date: May 23, 2019 12:17AM
Wow. All that effort just to produce beer that was described as "drinkable."

How are they going to advertise it? "Tastes...meh!" "Less satisfying!"

Interesting scientific exercise, though.
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: neophyte
Date: May 23, 2019 11:21AM
" ...and produced from a variety of grains, including millet, corn, sorghum, and wheat."

I suspect these grains would have imparted different flavors, and were strained out of the drink while pouring.
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: May 23, 2019 11:30AM
Quote
S. Pupp
Wow. All that effort just to produce beer that was described as "drinkable."

How are they going to advertise it? "Tastes...meh!" "Less satisfying!"

Interesting scientific exercise, though.

The Gaza yeast yields two slogans:
"Fill-A-Stein and drink what Goliath drank!"
and the mandatory Samson reference
"The party drink that brought the house down"
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: May 23, 2019 12:22PM
Beer so good that the Babylonians drove the brewers out !
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Re: Israeli scientists brew groundbreaking ‘ancient beer’ from 5,000-year-old yeast
Posted by: Janit
Date: May 23, 2019 09:20PM
New specialty department store coming soon to the Holy Land:

Beersheba, Bathsheba, and Beyond
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