Dogfish Head’s (Milton, DE) most creative beer collection is by far the Ancient Ales Series. The brewers work with Dr. Patrick McGovern, a leading expert in ancient beverages to recreate some of the world’s oldest libations. The series started with Midas Touch, and more recently Birra Etrusca Bronze.
Meet this ancient newbie rising from history, Kvasir. Named for a Scandinavian princess, this grog-like base beer features ligonberry, cranberry, birch syrup, honey, cranberry juice and herbs.
She was a leather-clad priestess, a member of the upper class, and in the most northerly limits of Scandinavia, her tomb guarded a recipe for millennia. In her day, before grape wine arrived from the Neu East, alcoholic beverages were cocktails of sugar-rich ingredients like grain, fruit and honey.With help from biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern and Swedish brewery Nynashamns Angbryggeri, we’ve unearthed the secrets of her tart, complex grog, and we’re sharing our modern interpretation with you.
With the help of archaeologists at the University of Chicago, Great Lakes Brewing Company has been trying for a year to recreate a 5,000 year old Sumerian beer recipe using only clay vessels and a wooden spoon. As a combined interest in ancient ales continues to grow thanks to brews like Dogfish Head’s Ta Henket, more and more breweries are pairing with scholars in an attempt to bring back these old recipes.
So far the beer features barley malted on the roof of the brewhouse and yeast strains pulled from beer-bread; both of which are suggestions from the Hymn to Ninkasi, the oldest and closest record of ancient beer making. Great Lakes has no intent of selling the beer, but more of assisting in a bit of scientific discovery, and will be offering some samples towards the end of the summer.
Sam has dug up another ancient recipe to bring to the modern world. Kvasir, a Scandinavian brew,was developed with the help of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern and Swedish brewer Lasse Ericsson. Using chemical, botanical, and pollen evidence found in a 3,500 year old Danish drinking vessel made of bitch bark, ingredients selected include wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, meadowsweet, honey and birch syrup.
“I’m psyched about doing this Nordic grog. We’re bringing back to life an innovation of our prehistoric ancestors at the most northerly limits of the planet.” – Dr. Pat
Arrival: July 2013
Availability: 750 mL bottles
Beer and history collide in Dogfish Head Brewery’s (Milton, DE) Ancient Ale Series. Your glass has seen beers with a host of unique ingredients ranging from Middle Eastern herbs, to South American Chilies and everything in between. How often does your brew require a trip to Italy and guidance from an archeologist? Dogfish Head’s most recent “Ancient” release Birra Etrusca Bronze certainly did.
For those drinkers always looking ahead, brewery founder Sam Calagione is already cooking up a new Ancient Ale that you should be tasting before the end of the year. Above: the brainstorming session.
Joining Dogfish Head Brewery’s Ancient Ale Series is Birra Etrusca Bronze. Beer truly meets history in this release, as Sam Calagione traveled to Rome, Italy to meet with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat Mc Govern. Joining the duo is Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin. The group analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs. Wouldn’t you know it? Another ancient culture has a love of beer. If anyone is going to remake it, you know Dogfish Head will.
A wide range of ingredients are used in Birra Etrusca.The backbone is two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. Additions include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. Etrusca is bittered with gentian root and Ethiopian myrrh resin.
Birra del Borgo, Birra Baladin and Dogfish Head will release a version of Etrusca. In an interesting twist, each brewery will ferment the beer in a traditional vessel. Dogfish Head will use bronze, Baladin in wood, and Birra del Borgo will use terra cotta. The flavor profiles will be slightly different for each. No word of the Italian editions being released in the states.
Style: (w/ Hazelnut flour, Pomegranates, Italian Chestnut Honey, Delaware Wildflower Honey, Gentian Root, Ethiopian Myrrh)
Availability: 750 ml bottles
Arrival: December, 2012
The next beer in the Ancient Ale series from Dogfish Head will be derived from an Etruscan recipe from the year 800 BC. Sam Calagione just returned from a trip to Italy where he experimented with different ingredients for this beer with Molecular Archeologist Dr. Pat, Leo of Birra del Borgo, and Teo of Baladin Brewery.
It sounds as if the recipe is not completely put together yet but will include some very interesting ingredients. It is derived from evidence found at Etruscan dig sites. There is an Etruscan tree resin that Sam is considering for his new Ancient Ale. Other ingredients may come from Casale Marittimo where they found ancient drinking vessels with a resonated beverage containing hazelnuts, pomegranates, tree resins, and dried grapes. The recipe will also contain a local heirloom wheat called Saragolla which dates back to 400 BC.
Along with these ancient Italian ingredients, Sam will also be using a mix of chestnut and wildflower honey from the region. A tiny bit of hops will also be added as each brewery will pull a single leaf from one hop cone to add to the boil.
Much like the Saison du Buff brews, each brewery, Birra del Borgo, Baladin, and Dogfish Head will each release their own versions of this beer using the same ingredients but different process and materials. For example, Birra del Borgo has built terra cotta fermenters specifically for this beer. This ancient Italian brew will be released later this year. [Dogfish Head]