Pliny the Elder 18.12.68: Beer for Bread

Galliae et hispaniae frumento in potum resoluto quibus diximus generibus spuma ita concreta pro fermento utuntur, qua de causa levior illis quam ceteris panis. When the grain of Gaul and Spain – the types of which we spoke about earlier – is made into a drink, they use the foam that forms during fermentation [for…

Part 2: Cellars, Cross-contamination, and Fermentation (Pliny the Elder 14.49[27])

Picari oportere protinus a canis ortu, postea perfundi marina aqua aut salsa, dein cinere e sarmentis aspergi vel argilla, abstersa murra suffiri ipsasque saepius cellas. inbecilla vina demissis in terram doliis servanda, valida expositis. numquam inplenda [. . .] aperiri vetant nisi sereno die, vetant austro flante lunave plena. flos vini candidus probatur; rubens triste…

Bog Myrtle in Literature and Archaeology

Bog myrtle (Myrica gale) has long been used in gruits, ales, and beers. Although archaeological evidence (see below) indicates a similar use of this shrub by northern Europeans in periods contemporary with ancient Greece and Rome, Greco-Roman literary sources are lacking for this plant and such beers. In fact, it is even difficult to identify…

Heather in Antiquity (Ancient Sources)

This is another in our series of ancient adjuncts: HEATHER. Heather (Calluna vulgraris) is of the Ericacea family of plants, a family name derived from the ancient word for heather – erica. Today, we collect several ancient sources that mention heather to demonstrate the plant’s use in ancient Greece and Rome. Aeschylus, Agamemnon ll. 294-295 οἱ…

Classical Beer Review: Weyerbacher Heresy

I am thrilled to review a Weyerbacher beer. I have a soft-spot for Weyerbacher because I grew upin the same town and my family occasionally ate at their old brewpub when I was a child. Of course, I was too young to drink, but my father seemed to enjoy their brews. Later, when I came of…

Brewing a Meadowsweet SMASH(erb) Beer

It is brewday! (or, at least it was brewday last Sunday). After obtaining meadowsweet from an online herbal distributor and the base grains from the local homebrew shop, I brewed a quick beer, adding meadowsweet at the beginning of the boil. The process (see below) largely follows the previous experimental brews on this site. This…

Plutarch, An vitiositas ad infelicitam sufficia 4

ὡς γὰρ ἡ κρόκη τὸ ὀστέον πρίει τέφρᾳ καὶ ὄξει διάβροχον γενόμενον, καὶ τὸν ἐλέφαντα τῷ ζύθει μαλακὸν γενόμενον καὶ χαλῶντα κάμπτουσι καὶ διασχηματίζουσιν, ἄλλως δ᾽ οὐ δύνανται: οὕτως ἡ τύχη τὸ πεπονθὸς ἐξ αὑτοῦ καὶ μαλακὸν ὑπὸ κακίας προσπεσοῦσα κοιλαίνει καὶ τιτρώσκει. For as a thread cuts bone that has been moistened with ash…

Strabo, Geographica 4.6.2

κατοικοῦσι δὲ Λίγυες ζῶντες ἀπὸ θρεμμάτων τὸ πλέον καὶ γάλακτος καὶ κριθίνου πόματος, νεμόμενοι τά τε πρὸς θαλάττῃ χωρία καὶ τὸ πλέον τὰ ὄρη. [. . .] ταῦτά τε δὴ κατάγουσιν εἰς τὸ ἐμπόριον τὴν Γένουαν καὶ θρέμματα καὶ δέρματα καὶ μέλι, ἀντιφορτίζονται δὲ ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον τὸν ἐκ τῆς Ἰταλίας: ὁ δὲ παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς…

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…

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,…

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…