A legacy of beer-making entrepreneurs from the bronze age
The excavation of the malting kiln with associated sets of tools and artifacts reveals an acquired taste for beer making in western Cyprus dating back to 3,500 years ago.
The excavation at the Early-Middle Bronze Age settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia, near Paphos by Manchester University team led by Dr Lindy Crewe, reveals a microbrewery facility revealing insights on the role of beer as an important part of society from the Neolithic onwards.
Articles releases both by the Drinks business and Huffington post reveal of the excellent work performed by the excavation team in releasing the news and engaging readers in a all-round facets of the news, even as much as being able to suggest that the Fig beer must have been a local favorite at the time; a recipe for the making is even suggested by the team which elegantly have baptised as Kissonerga-Skalia Pale Ale.
It’s encouraging that a collaborative effort at the Heritage and Archaeological Research Practice did put Crewe’s theory to the test. While in Cyprus instead, we have a legacy of suffocating efforts by entrepreneurs, as in the case of the Aphrodite Rock Brewery , packing for Malta. (Courtesy of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Cyprus - Department of Customs & Excise – See petition)
Our guess is that brewing a Bronze Age beer will up to this day remain but a recreation for today, but important lessons from the past that can determine future paths.
Update Jan 11, 2013
The Aphrodite Rock Brewery Company have announced that final permit has been granted for brewing upon reviewing license requirements and the Bradford family who moved to Cyprus to set up a brewery in traditional hand crafted ales & “Island Beers” have also reviewed their decision to move to Malta – so some good news on the horizon for beer enthusiasts in Cyprus – Kissonerga-Skalia Pale Ale can become a reality after all.
*Update April 22, 2013 The Aphrodite Rock Brewery Company have announced that brewing has begun and bottles will be distributed locally within 3 weeks but direct sales from the brewery will be allowed. Keep yourselves posted
Recipe for Bronze Age – Fig beer
Recipe for Kissonerga-Skalia Pale Ale – a bronze age fig beer – The experimental Archaeology and Beer Production – Heritage and Archaeological Practice (Harp)
1.5 kilos of fresh, wild barley
Five large, wild figs (unwashed)
Plenty of water
Stage One: Germination
· Using a porous sack, soak the barley grains in cool running water for 24 hours. A fresh running stream is ideal.
· Drain the grains and remove any unwanted stalks etc.
· Spread the grains evenly inside a semi-porous container (a shallow pottery vessel or wooden bowl for instance). Cover the container with a damp cloth and place it out of direct sunlight.
· Uncover every six hours to stir the grains, so as to avoid overheating and moulding. Repeat until germination is complete (usually three to four days).
· Once the grains have germinated, they will be ready to malt. Split open a grain to check the germination: Once the inner shoot of the grain has grown to around three-quarters of the length of the grain, they are ready.
Stage Two: Malting
· To malt the grain, place in open containers and put them into the bottom of your drying kiln. Once positioned, fire up the kiln and maintain a steady fire for 24 hours. This will produce a steady temperature of around 60°C for malting your grains to produce a pale malt.
Stage Three: Mashing
· Once malted, take your grains and crush using a quern stone and grinder. The grains should be crushed in order to open them and allow liquid in (so that sugars can be absorbed), but not crushed so much as to make flour.
· Heat 3.75 litres of water in a large cooking pot to between 65°and 70°C. Add the crushed malt and stir through. Cover the vessel and remove from the heat, but ensure that the temperature does not fall below 65° or above 70°C (if necessary add cold or hot water to help maintain the temperature) and leave to mash for 90 minutes.
· Heat a further 3.75 litres of water to 75°C in a separate cooking pot and prepare a third sealable vessel, in which the beer will ferment.
Stage Four: Preparing the wort
· Once the mash is complete, strain the contents of the mash through a porous material, such as cloth, into the fermentation vessel. The grains will be held in the cloth whilst allowing the sweet liquid wort to drain into the fermentation vessel. To extract the maximum amount of sugar from the grain and into the wort, take the second vessel of heated water and pour over the grains to drain into the fermentation vessel.
Stage Five: Fermentation
· Once the fermentation vessel is full, heat to a high temperature to kill any germs or bacteria. The wort must then be cooled by placing the fermentation vessel into cold water (being careful not to let any of the water into the vessel).
· Once the wort has been cooled, take the figs and gently crush them in your hand before placing them inside the fermentation vessel. Seal the fermentation vessel and leave in a cool place out of direct sunlight for five to six days. After this time, your beer will be ready to drink.
More Information and useful links
- Kissonerga-Skalia: An Early-Middle Bronze Age settlement in western Cyprus : – Dr Lindy Crewe
- Kissonerga-Skalia – general information
- Crewe, L. and I. Hill. “Finding beer in the archaeological record: a case study from Kissonerga-Skalia on Bronze Age Cyprus.-”Levant 44, no. 2(2012) : 205-2371998b Excavations at Kissonerga-Mosphilia 1979-1992. Lemba Archaeological Project II.1B. (University of Edinburgh). Available online at http://www.arcl.ed.ac.uk/arch/publications/cyprus/kissonerga/dir.htm
- Lemba Archaeological Research Centre
- HARP Archaeology – experimental beer production in Cyprus