An ancient beer on today's market

In the competitive world of beer, most brewers are continually striving to come up with something new.

Not Sam Calagione. The owner of the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, DE, is using a 9,000-year-old recipe for his establishment's latest offering, called Chateau Jiahu.

As he explains it:

"Preserved pottery jars found in the Neolithic villiage of Jiahu, in Henan province in northern China, has revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey and fruit was being produced that long ago, right around the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beinginning to be made in the Middle East.

"Fast forward to 2005. Molecular archeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania calls on Dogfish Head to re-create their second ancient beverage and Chateau Jiahu is born. In keeping with historic evidence, Dogfish brewers used pre-gelatinized rice flakes, wildflower honey, muscat grapes, barley malt, hawthorn fruit, and chrysanthemum flowers.

"The rice and barley malt were added together to make the mash for starch conversion and degredation. The resulting sweet wort was then run into the kettle. The honey, grapes, hawthorn fruit, and chrysanthemum flowers were then added. The entire mixture was boiled for 45 minutes, then cooled. The resulting sweet liquid was pitched with a fresh culture of sake yeast and allowed to ferment a month before the transfer into a chilled secondary tank."

The result is an 8% beer. The original label, shown here, was designed by aritist Tara McPherson, who has done other design work for Dogfish. The company, which also has a brewpub/distillery in Rehobeth Beach, DE, an alehouse in Gaithersburg, MD, and another being readied in Falls Church, VA, has a lineup of 26 kinds of beer and ale.

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