PLINY THE ELDER, 14.19.101

Proximum fit e milii semine maturi cum ipsa stipula, libra quadrante in congios duos musti, macerato et post septimum mensem transfuse.

The next [variety of wine] is made from the grains of the ripened millet with the stalks [too], a pound and a quarter [is steeped] in two congii of must. When [the stalk] has been made soft, it is poured out after the seventh month.

Background
Pliny describes numerous “artificial” varieties of wine. This was the second in his list.

Commentary
Continuing with our recent millet theme: we get a new recipe to add to the list, ca. 400 g millet and millet stalks soaked in ca. 6.5 L (grape?) must for seven months. I don’t have the time, nor the millet stalks for this beer recreation. In fact, I found that food grade millet stalks are quite hard to come by online, but I certainly was not . . . millet-antly . . . searching for them. Still, I am curious to know how this graf-like beverage tasted and what, if any, contribution the millet stalks offered to the flavor.

Unfortunately, Pliny does not provide a geographic location for this practice. He does indicate that a similar practice as described above has been used with lotuses for another type of wine.

The rest of this chapter in Pliny will be of interest to anyone searching for zany, new adjuncts to add to their next homebrew. Gallic nard, anyone?

*N.B. it has been argued that Pliny is mistaken by the word milium (millet) in this passage and that the recipe follows Dioscorides recipe for betony wine. (Andre 1958, 126-127; Nelson 2001, fn. 27)

Author’s Note
Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE)
See previous

Image source: wikimedia Commons, Gwyndon

Bibliography
Andre, J. 1958. Pline l’ancien. Histoire naturelle, livre xiv. Paris.
Nelson, M. 2001. “Beer in Greco-Roman Antiquity.” Ph.D. dissertation, U. of British Columbia.

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