Was Ancient Sumerian Beer Alcohol-Free?
Posted on January 18, 2012 by Scott
So it seems that ancient Sumerian beer may not have had alcohol in it. According to new research:
Despite being able to pull information from various sources, Damerow concluded that the remnants of Mesopotamia held little clue to the brewing techniques of the Sumerians, and expressed doubts that the popular beverage could be considered beer.
“Given our limited knowledge about the Sumerian brewing processes, we cannot say for sure whether their end product even contained alcohol,” Damerow wrote in his study, first published in November in the Cuneiform Digital Library Journal.
I’m not so sure I agree with this thought, as it seems like if you were going to go to the trouble to have all the ingredients what then would be the point of such a beverage?
Looking over the cuneiform texts, Damerow found that many contained records of brewery deliveries of emmer wheat, barley and malt, but hardly a scrap of information on the beer production processes. While seemingly surprising, the lack of a beer recipe makes sense, as the administrative documents were likely written for an audience already familiar with the details of brewing, according to Damerow.
Whatever information Damerow could glean from the documents was clouded by the fact that the methods used for recording the information differed between locations and time periods. Moreover, the Sumerian bureaucrats didn’t base their records and calculations on any consistent number system.
Well, maybe Mr. Damerow is just trying to make a name for himself and this will amount to nothing. As for me, I’m not sure I buy into the philosophy.