When a team of archaeologists found a collection of ancient funnels, pots, jugs, and a pottery stove in northern China, they realized that they had uncovered something pretty important. No, not a primordial frat house, but something far more interesting.
After analyzing grain residue found in said pots and funnels, the National Academy of Sciences team concluded that they had been used to make beer more than 5,000 years ago, making the archaeological site the oldest brewery in China.
And as if that weren't staggering enough, a closer look at the instruments utilized in ancient Chinese beer-making suggested that brewing techniques haven't changed a whole lot over that last five millennia.
The recently unearthed beer-making facility was located underground—ideal for storage and temperature control—and provided fascinating insight into what kind of ingredients were used to make ancient brews.
"We are able to identify the presence of barley in archaeological materials from China by applying a recently developed method based on phytolith morphometrics," the team wrote. "Our findings imply that early beer making may have motivated the initial translocation of barley from the Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China before the crop became a part of agricultural subsistence in the region 3,000 years later."
By using chemical analysis, they were even able to find out what the beer was made of, and, again, it's pretty close to the modern way of doing things. According to the scientists, the 5,000-year-old brew contained broomcorn millet, barley, Job's tears, and tubers like yams, to add sweetness.
"To our knowledge, our data provide the earliest direct evidence of in situ beer production in China, showing that an advanced beer-brewing technique was established around 5,000 years ago," researchers said in a press release. In modern times, China has become the world's largest beer market, with in terms of volume, consuming twice as much as the US, with breweries like Tsingtao Jérôme Coppée" target="_blank">raking in almost 30 billion dollars annually.
Sadly, no ancient method of curing hangovers caused by modern Chinese beer giants was unearthed.