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Quaff a Local Microbrew, Imbibe Some Beer History

by D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
posted May 13, 1998

With “brew pubs” opening up all over the Bay Area, microbrewing – the production of hand-crafted beer in limited quantities – seems like a cool, new trend. Yet small-scale brewing is anything but new.

Ancient artifacts and records show that civilizations brewed beer more than 7,000 years ago. And throughout the ages, beer has been an integral part of cultures around the world.

The Hearst Museum of Anthropology brings together scholars and brewers to examine of the history of brewing Sunday, May 17, 1- 5 p.m., in Kroeber Hall.
The Andean tradition of women brewers, the role of beer in the classical Greek and Roman world, and brewing during the California Gold Rush will be among the topics covered.

Members of Berkeley’s Brewers Guild – including Triple Rock, Jupiter, Bison Brewing, Pyramid Brewery and Golden Pacific Brewing – will participate in the discussion and share their wares for a tasting after the lecture.

Archaeological study of brewing has turned up many unusual findings. Discovery of ancient recipes has enabled modern brewers and scholars to reconstruct the brewing processes used by the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians, giving us an idea of what beer tasted like in 5,000 BC.

Since the time of the Inca and Aztec empires, beer has been produced in Central and South America from maguey, corn, manioc root and other native plants. Called “chicha,” this drink has been an important part of rituals and fiestas for thousands of years.

In the United States before Prohibition, beer was considered a healthy drink, and hops, a flavoring agent used in the brewing process, played an important economic role in the expansion of the western frontier.

Admission to the lecture and tasting is $5 for museum members, $15 for the public. For information call 643-7648.

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