A team of US and Chinese scientists has found evidence that brewing beer started in China some 5,000 years ago – according to a report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research team unearthed brewing equipment and ancient brewing recipes that listed the ingredients used for brewing beer in ancient China. These were found in disused underground rooms in China’s central plain, the VOA reported.
This latest discovery shows that brewing beer possibly started thousands of years than earlier thought in China. Unearthed Chinese literature written between 1250-1046 BC during the Shang dynasty were the first official documents to reference the production of beer in ancient China, according to CNBC.
When the brewing equipment were tested for trace elements, evidence of barley, tuber, broomcorn millet, and Chinese pearl barley or Job’s tears were found. And funny enough, analysis of the equipment and recipes found showed that the modern beer brewing techniques used today in China is not much different from that used in ancient China.
Discovering that barley was used by ancient Chinese brewers was a bit of a surprise since researchers thought the crop arrived in China much later. This fuels the idea that barley could have been brought to China exclusively to aid beer brewing.
“Early beer making may have motivated the initial translocation of barley from western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China before the crop became a part of agricultural subsistence in the region 3,000 years later,” the researchers wrote.
Leader of the research team, Jiajing Wang of Stanford University noted that the beer brewed in ancient China may have tasted slightly sour and then sweet. “Sour comes from fermented cereal grains, sweet from tubers,” he explained.