The archaeology of brewing

Posted on December 7, 2016


Archaeology and beer well that’s a match you don’t see too often (sarcasm). This is actually a session on the archaeology of brewing, not archaeologists brewing, though it does involve that too. It was a pretty great session we video recorded from the CIfA conference, for your enjoyment.

Session Abstract:

We will be exploring the ongoing relationship between archaeology and brewing. The first half of the session will look at the impact of brewing heritage on society and the role that archaeology can play in this. There will then be a beer-break for those
happy to forego tea and learn about local beer. Then, a whistle-stop tour (to whet your whistle) of brewing through the ages!  We will embark on a journey through the
archaeology of brewing, with each short talk finishing with a taster of beer made to an authentic recipe. By way of closing we will look to create a manifesto for the archaeology of brewing.

Organisers: Jeff Sanders and Devon McHugh

Ancient ales and extreme beverages: an interview with Patrick E. McGovern

Patrick E. McGovern is Scientific Director of the Biomolecular archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, USA. He is widely acknowledged to be the world’s leading expert on ancient fermented drinks (and less formally as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales”!). Highlights of his work include discovering the world’s oldest known barley beer, collaborating with Dogfish Head Brewery to produce modern recreations based on his discoveries, and his acclaimed book, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.

Asking the questions (sourced from our panel of experts and Twitter) is Michael Brown, a Near Eastern archaeologist based at the University of Edinburgh who is currently taking time out to complete a brewing degree at Heriot Watt University.

Patrick E. McGovern and Michael Brown

Beer as social phenomenon

Rob McArdle presenting at the ‘The Archaeology of Brewing’ Session at the CIfA conference.

Old and new brews: the archaeology of brewing in a New Zealand sociohistorical context

New Zealand is not necessarily the first thought when it comes to the archaeology and history of brewing, but it has a dynamic and colourful history that has been recently explored through two very different archaeological investigations. Speights and Emerson’s are two iconic breweries who span the historic timeline of New Zealand brewing. Recent excavations undertaken at the 19th century Speight’s Brewery and at the new Emerson’s brewery in Dunedin on the South Island, have provided two different stories that both expand our understanding of the brewing industry and of the consumption of beer and other beverages in 19th and 20th century New Zealand. Through investigation of the material culture of brewing at these sites, so an idea of the cultural, commercial and international trading connections that brewing created is being developed; a story that is being passed on to current and future imbibers in imaginative ways.

Dr Andrea Farminer

The Old Brewery

Ulverston, Cumbria, is a town with a long brewing history influencing its historic character. The Old Brewery’s origins can be traced to the 18th century. Though redundant for 20 years, the brewery remained a landmark within the town. The conversion of the brewery will not only result in the alteration of archaeological material, but also potentially the removal of part of Ulverston’s brewing history. Therefore, the purpose of archaeological intervention was to preserve through record the remains of the brewery, and to assess how future development and change of purpose will impact on the site and the historic character of Ulverston and the memory and memorialisation of its brewing past. Ulverston has recently reinvented its connection with brewing. The difference in the nature of the new brewing activities and the reuse of an old brewery site, however, are both physical manifestations of the changing nature of Ulverston’s modern economy.

Ariane Buschmann

A manifesto for the archaeology of brewing?

Jeff Sanders, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, discusses a manifesto for the archaeology of brewing.

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