BROMOS, Defined

Βρόμος, ὁ – Oats (Avena sativa) Oats were quite uncommon ingredients in ancient beer. The earliest (potential) reference to beer that was made with oats is in the fourth c. CE (Julian the Apostate). The Romans considered oats an unappetizing grain, and its cost reflected this disinterest; it was the lowest priced grain in Diocletian’s…

Julian the Apostate, Epigram 1

εἰς οἶνον ἀπὸ κριθῆς. τίς πόθεν εἶς Διόνυσε; μὰ γὰρ τὸν ἀληθέα Βάκχον, οὔ σ’ἐπιγιγνώσκω. τὸν Διὸς οἶδα μόνον. κεῖνος νέκταρ ὄδωδε. σύ δὲ τράγον. ἦ ῥά σε Κελτοὶ τῇ πενίῃ Βοτρύων τεῦξαν ἀπ’ ἀσταχύων; τῷ σε χρὴ καλέειν Δημήτριον, οὐ Διόνυσον, πυρογενῆ μᾶλλον καὶ Βρόμον, οὐ Βρόμιον. On barley-wine (beer). Who and from where…

Classical Beer Review: Alvinne Sigma

A few weeks ago, team BCS went to the beer capital of the world: Brussels! We paid a visit to some very legit breweries, including Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen, and feasted at various awesome restaurants, including Fin de Siècle and Nuetnigenough. The latter also happened to have a great beer menu, where I finally sampled…

HORDEUM, Defined

Hordeum, -i (n) – barley also ordeum (see Ammianus Marcellinus) Hordeum is used to describe the barley in an Illyrian beer by Ammianus Marcellinus, a German beer by Tacitus, and beer more generally by Pliny the Elder. We know that barley was considered less healthy than wheat as a grain by the 1st c. CE (read…

Hieronymus, Commentary on Isaiah 7.19-5-11

‘et erunt irrigua eius flaccentia, omnes qui faciebant lacunas ad capiendos pisces.’ Hoc significat, quod omnes insidiae Aegypti piscatorum destruantur, et permeant. [. . .] notandum quod pro lacunis LXX ζῦθον transtulerunt, quod genus est potionis ex frugibus aquaque confectum et vulgo in Dalmatiae Pannoniaeque provinciis gentili barbaroque sermone appellatur sabaium. Hoc maxime utuntur Aegyptii,…

Classical Beer Review: Butcher’s Tears Tenebrae

This beer was drunk at the source: Butcher’s Tears’s tap room in Amsterdam. Butcher’s Tear’s Tenebrae is a beer that fits its name: dark. The smell of the beer is entirely soy sauce. Its taste, however, is much more complex and pleasing. Tenebrae is more a British stout than a sticky, sweet RIS from America….

SABAIA, Defined

Sabaia, -ae (f) – a drink made from barley and grain in Illyricum (Balkans). Sabaia is only attested twice in Latin: a recent passage in Ammianus Marcellinus and a soon-to-be covered, BCS passage by Hieronymus. Because of the general absence of this word in Latin literature, there is not much information about this drink. We…

Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum 26.8.2

Ad quam obsidendam, cum huius modi pugnarum peritis, Vadomario misso, ex duce et rege Alamannorum, Valens Nicomediam pergit. Exindeque profectus, oppugnationi Chalcedonis magnis viribus insistebat, cuius e muris probra in eum iaciebantur, et irrisive compellebatur ut Sabaiarius. Est autem sabaia ex ordeo vel frumento, in liquorem conversis, paupertinus in Illyrico potus. To besiege the city,…

Classical Beer Review: Orpheus Brewing Atalanta

On a recent trip to the city of Amsterdam, I stopped by BeerTemple – the American Beer Bar right in the center of town. My Classically-themed beer heart started beating faster when I recognized a can in the fridge as none other than Atalanta – a beer by Atlanta-based and also Classically-themed brewery Orpheus. I have…

Unknown, Inscription (CIL XIII 10012.7)

Inscription: CERVESAR| |ESAR| Reconstructed: Cervesa r[eple] Cerv]esa r[? Fill with beer! …beer/brewers… Background Inscriptions are essential evidence for Classicists (and other scholars) because they can enlighten us about aspects of daily, political, and social life that are often unseen, colored, or not noted in extant literature. They often convey a public message that was meant…

Classical Beer Review: Trve Brewing Life’s Trade

This light-bodied farmhouse ale was fermented in puncheons. There is a beautiful lemon tartness that opens to notes of pineapple. By the the third and fourth sip, flavors of white, fleshy peach take over. This is a delightful, easy drinking brew that I gulped down far too quickly for the price. Background Neither “life” nor…

Cassius Dio, Historiae Romanae 49.36

οἱ δὲ δὴ Παννόνιοι νέμονται μὲν πρὸς τῇ Δελματίᾳ, παρ᾽ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἴστρον, ἀπὸ Νωρικοῦ μέχρι τῆς Μυσίας τῆς ἐν τῇ Εὐρώπῃ, κακοβιώτατοι δὲ ἀνθρώπων ὄντες ῾οὔτε γὰρ γῆς οὔτε ἀέρων εὖ ἥκουσιν: οὐκ ἔλαιον, οὐκ οἶνον, πλὴν ἐλαχίστου καὶ τούτου κακίστου, γεωργοῦσιν, ἅτε ἐν χειμῶνι πικροτάτῳ τὸ πλεῖστον διαιτώμενοι, ἀλλὰ τάς τε κριθὰς καὶ…