Monthly Archive for March, 2005

Sumerian Beer – Ninkasi before Bread?

I’m trying to find something on an old myth about a town under siege that decides to brew beer instead of making bread because it was the most efficient use of the grain. My dad and I were recently discussing the myth and couldn’t figure out why they would have made the choice and to what advantage brewing would be. Anyway, I’m still looking for it, but I did find an interesting article about the possibility that beer (or ninkasi) may have prompted early hunter-gatherers to domesticate rather than bread. The Sumerians had a lot of beer-related tradition and law, so its really an interesting, if unanswered question. One interesting revelation:

When the “Hymn to Ninkasi” was written, beer was made using bread. But bappir, the Sumerian bread, could be kept for long periods of time without spoiling, and so it was a storable resource. We also know, from various annotations on bappir and beer in the Sumerian and Akkadian dictionaries, that bappir was eaten only during food shortages. In essence, making bread was a convenient way to store the raw materials for brewing beer.

How peculiar.

End of keg foam

Even when you know that its coming, the last sputtering of foam from a dead keg is still kind of a surprise. It could also be a disappointment if I didn’t know about a certain keg of stout waiting to be tapped.