Ancient Chinese beer recreated in Chicago

The Field Museum in Chicago is offering a taste of ancient Chinese history with its newly released QingMing Beer, which was inspired by artefacts and ingredients dating back more than 4,000 years.

The label of QingMing Beer, a collaboration between the Field Museum in Chicago and Off Color Brewing company.

Created by Off Color Brewing, which previously launched an ancient Peruvian-inspired beer with the museum, the beer is inspired by artefacts discovered during archaeological digs in Taixi and a Changzikou tomb dating from the Late Shang/Western Zhou Dynasties (circa 1,600-722 BC), according to the museum.

As reported by the Sun Times, after examining the inner walls of ceramic jars, which the researchers thought were associated with alcohol serving and production in the two tombs, they found evidence of mold-based saccharification, a Chinese-invented brewing technique that converts starch in rice to sugar, said Gary Feinman, a Field Museum archaeologist.

The findings were then sent over to Off Color brewery. Rather than a strict recreation of the beer found at a single dig site, the brewing company decided to make an amalgam, the company explained, “because existing evidence shows a wide range of beverage types were produced… and the federal government decided that many of the ingredients and flavourings being used at the time are not currently legal to use in beer production”.

The name of the beer, ‘QingMing’, refers to a traditional Chinese festival called Tomb Sweeping Day, where families would honour their ancestors by cleaning up their tombs and burning paper offerings.

The beer with 9.5% ABV is said to have a taste profile of, “peaches and lemon rind with fragrant aromas of tea, bubblegum and sake”.

Selling for US$16 for a 750 ml bottle, the beer was officially released at the museum’s ‘Hop To It’ event in mid-July.

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