Israeli scientists brew beer using 5,000-year-old yeast
Israeli waiter pours a beer for test, during a press conference organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in Jerusalem to present and reveal a unique way to isolate yeast from ancient pottery, from which high-quality beers were then produced, on 21 May 2019. EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI
Ancient clay vessels for winery produces are displayed during a press conference organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in Jerusalem to present a revealed a unique way to isolate yeast from ancient pottery, from which high-quality beers were then produced, on 21 May 2019. EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI
Professors Aren Maeir at Bar Ilan University (L) Dr Yitzhak Paz from the Israel Antiquities Authority (C) and Professor Yuval Gadot from Tel Aviv University pose during a press conference organised by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in Jerusalem to present and reveal a unique way to isolate yeast from ancient pottery, from which high-quality beers were then produced, on 21 May 2019. EPA-EFE/ATEF SAFADI
Jerusalem, May 22 (efe-epa).- Israeli scientists have brewed beer with ancient yeasts that were discovered in 5,000-year-old pottery.
The alcoholic drink is one of the oldest and most popular in the world and has been enjoyed for thousands of years in ancient Egypt and the Middle East.
Six yeast strains were taken from ancient beer jugs found during archaeological excavations at Holy Land sites.
“We are talking about a real breakthrough here,” said archaeologist Yitzhak Paz from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“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."
Whereas nowadays beer is drunk for pleasure, in ancient times it was a form of nourishment consumed daily by all of the population, including adults and children, despite being between five to six percent alcohol in volume, Paz said.
The yeasts were discovered at several settlements that have now become archaeological sites, he added.
Yeasts are types of fungi that can survive for thousands of years and these were found inside jars, said Ronen Hazan, a microbiologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Dental Sciences and School of Dental Medicine.
The ceramic pots had once been used to produce and store ancient beer and the scientists discovered it by studying the pottery's nano-pores.
Researchers then extracted samples of the yeasts, isolated and then propagated them before confirming they were genuinely once used to ferment beer.
Hazan said the yeasts had enabled his team to make beer that gives a genuine glimpse of how ancient Egyptian beer might have tasted.
Researchers enlisted the help of Itai Gutman, an Israeli beer expert, who helped with the brewing process.
The result was sampled by Elyashiv Drori, of Ariel University, as well as by a panel of certified tasters from the International Beer Judge Certification Program under the direction of Shmuel Nakai, a brewer and owner of Biratenu, the Jerusalem Beer Center.
The group agreed that the brew was delicious and of sufficiently high quality to be safe for general consumption.
"The beer isn’t bad," Hazan said.
"Aside from the gimmick of drinking beer from the time of King Pharaoh, this research is extremely important to the field of experimental archaeology, a field that seeks to reconstruct the past.”
He said the team’s research had offered a means through which to taste the flavors of the past.
"The greatest wonder here is that the yeast colonies survived within the vessel for thousands of years,” Hazan added. EFE-EPA