Thursday, July 06, 2017

New Field Museum Beer Draws on Ancient Flavors


© Zachary James Johnston
Inspired by ancient Chinese alcohol preparation techniques, The Field Museum partnered with Off Color Brewing to launch a new limited edition beer this July called QingMing. The beer’s creation was inspired by archeological findings from Taixi and a Changzikou tomb, which date to the Late Shang/Western Zhou Dynasties circa 1600-722 BCE.

This beer is a combination of traditional Asian brewing techniques resulting in a taste profile of peaches and lemon rind with fragrant aromas of tea, bubblegum, and sake. Existing evidence shows a wide range of beverage types were produced during historic times in China and some of the ingredients that were used are no longer legal in beer production today.

Curator of Anthropology Gary Feinman explained the functional role of alcoholic beverages in human history: “In China, alcohol is referred to as the ‘water of history’ because of its close connections to domestic practices and dynastic rituals. Alcohol traditionally has ties to feasting ceremonies throughout human history, thereby encouraging cooperation, which is essential to the survival of communities.”

Analysis of excavated materials illustrates early evidence of mold-based sacchrificaton (the conversion of starch to sugar), which is China's unique contribution to the production of alcoholic beverages.

“I think it’s great to use this enjoyable pastime to convey knowledge derived from history,” said Feinman. “I’m glad The Field Museum is able to partner with Off Color Brewing to give new life to traditional recipes.”

The Field Museum will hold a public release of QingMing on July 13 at its Hop To It event from 6-8:30pm. The event will be open to the public, ages 21 and older. Tickets are $35 for Field Museum members, and $40 for non-members. For more information, visit The Field Museum website. The beer will be available on tap and in bottles at the Museum’s Field Bistro, as well as in bottles at select retailers, as early as July 14.

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