Great Lakes Brewing Company Brews Sumerian Beer

Discussion in 'Beer Releases' started by Jason, Jul 14, 2012.

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  1. Jason

    Jason Founder (0) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts

    CLEVELAND, OH (July 13th) - Great Lakes Brewing Company (GLBC) has enlisted the help of historians, scientists, and archaeologists in order to brew a historically accurate version of what is believed to be the first recorded beer recipe from ancient Sumeria. The project is spearheaded by co-owner Pat Conway, who was inspired by a visit to the University of Chicago, his alma mater.

    The project is unique in that GLBC brewers have chosen to forgo modern conveniences like steel tanks and automated brewing systems in favor of historically sound implements. Large porcelain vessels were created by pottery students at the University of Chicago, and the brewers have opted to use sunlight and wooden tools for the malting and mashing of the brew.

    Tate Paulette, a PhD Candidate studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, has been an invaluable resource, providing refined research that has informed the process. Conway and his team of brewers have used Paulette’s research in order to avoid anachronisms, which has presented many unique challenges.

    GLBC Field Quality Specialist Bridget Gauntner describes one such roadblock she encountered during this project, “Obtaining a yeast sample from the Middle East has been difficult.” The brewers originally enlisted an archaeologist to collect yeast samples during his travels, but he was unable to get the sample past customs. “We decided to instead experiment with initiating fermentation using the bappir (barley bread) as our yeast source,” Gauntner said. Trial and error were important elements of the initial brewing experiment. Portions of the finished beer were examined by GLBC brewers and lab technicians who hope to use what they’ve learned to inform and improve their second attempt in the fall.

    Innovative consumer education is one of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s basic tenets, and Conway’s goal for this project is to educate the public and GLBC’s employees on the origins of beer. A second batch of Sumerian beer will be brewed in September, and will be used in conjunction with educational engagements only; it will not be bottled or distributed. Opportunities to learn more about the Sumerian Beer experiment will be shared by Great Lakes Brewing Company at as they develop.

    Great Lakes Brewing Company, which is comprised of a brewery and brewpub, was founded in 1988 by brothers Pat and Dan Conway as the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio and today remains Ohio’s most celebrated and award-winning brewer of lagers and ales. Great Lakes Brewing Company’s distribution area extends throughout the Great Lakes region and surrounding areas. For more information or to learn more about the company, visit

    3BeersIn3Days likes this.
  2. TomTwanks

    TomTwanks Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2011 Ohio

    Awesome project, amazing brewery. Glad to here my hometown GLBC is doing something of this caliber. Fantastic guys!
  3. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Seems like a lot of brewers are clamoring to make ancient ales these days.
  4. BB1313

    BB1313 Grand Pooh-Bah (4,228) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    This sounds pretty cool. Being from Cleveland, I've always been a huge fan of GLBC. My only criticism I guess is that they've always been too traditional, if that's even possible. It's nice to seem them doing something completely outside of the box..
    Blueribbon666 likes this.
  5. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Pooh-Bah (1,645) Jul 4, 2008 Ohio
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I totally agree, but I feel that sticking to tradition, or rather what they do best keeps them solid and grounded. I'll always try anything new that they bottle because more often than not it's going to be solid. The Wright Pils has definitely become a new summer favorite, I like it better in the bottle than the 1st time I had it on tap @ the pub, gonna have to pair it with Summer Teeth, another great 2012 summer discovery. Here's hoping the Wright Pils becomes a regular seasonal @ the very I need to get my mitts on a growler of Rye of the Tiger freshly tapped at Heinen's.
  6. BB1313

    BB1313 Grand Pooh-Bah (4,228) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    That's exactly how I've always felt. That's what makes them awesome. But I think they're grounded and have been around long enough to try something that bends styles once in awhile. They actually have been doing some experimental stuff with their "Firkin' Thursdays". But they can do what they want.
  7. Spider889

    Spider889 Pooh-Bah (1,871) Mar 24, 2010 Ohio

    Hope this brew makes its way into the community at some point. My biggest complaint from GLBC is the lack of experimentation we see from a brewery that size, and so far it appears that this is nowhere near getting to the market/brewpub, let alone into a bottle.

    Either way I was really surprised to see this come out of Great Lakes.
  8. Jwren5

    Jwren5 Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2011 Illinois

    I like both history and beer, so I have to say that I would be pretty excited to try this!
  9. DanE

    DanE Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2012 Connecticut

    I have a feeling DFH will come out of nowhere with a Sumerian.. it'll be like pow pow
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,981) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Anchor did one over 20 years ago:

    In 1989, Anchor's pioneering spirit and reverence for classical brewing led to its Sumerian Beer Project and Ninkasi, a beer made according to a 4,000+-year-old recipe.

  11. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania
    In Memoriam

  12. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

  13. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina

    I hate to agree, but I do. They dont do anything rediculous, or very hoppy either. Id rather see them start to work more with different hop varietals.
  14. Jwren5

    Jwren5 Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2011 Illinois

    This article is pretty mindblowing to me. All those kids sitting in class thinking science is boring are doing it wrong! Midas touch, btw, was a beer that I quite enjoyed, and I look forward to more ancient ales.
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