On September 28, 2019 Bettina Arnold and Josh Driscoll presented an early Mesopotamian beer based on Weihenstephan Master Brewer Martin Zarnkow’s research at Tall Bazi in northern Syria.
The beer we brewed for the Beer Barons’ Bash was a Mesopotamian Bappir, a Cold Mashed 3rd Millennium BC Brew. The event at the Pabst Mansion featured several local craft brewers and was located just Wisconsin Avenue from the iconic mansion that beer built for Captain Frederick Pabst.
Bronze Age Bappir Beer Recipe
This is a Bronze Age Bappir style beer. It is made by using sourdough bread, similar to ancient Sumerian bappir, as the source of yeast and good bacteria for the beer. The beer is “cold mashed”, which means that the mashing stage happens at room temperature. It is also produced by simultaneous mash/fermentation. Enzymes free sugars for the yeast to convert to alcohol in the same step. This is a live beer that will change as it ferments and can be enjoyed from 24 hours after brew start until about a week later depending on the strength of the yeast fermentation.
Bappir bread (spelt flour, barley malt flour, barley malt, salt, water, sourdough starter)
- Make the bappir. Take 200 grams of spelt flour, 100 grams of barley malt flour, 100 grams of crushed barley, 5 grams salt, 230 grams of water, and 160 grams of active sourdough starter and mix them together. Knead the dough until it is sufficiently elastic. Let the dough proof in a bowl for 3 hours. Then knock back the dough by further folding and kneading. Let the dough proof in a bowl for 3 more hours. Score the top of the dough. Bake the loaf at 350 F for 7 minutes.
- Pour 3 liters of room temperature water into a vessel. Add 1 liter of bappir, 1 liter of crushed barley malt, and 1 liter of crushed emmer wheat.
- Let the mixture stand for at least 24hrs. (Enzymes from the malt will break down sugars, while lactic acid bacteria from the sourdough will lower the pH, and yeast from the sourdough will begin fermentation.)
- Scoop out beer and drink. (After the first 24 hours, you will have a small beer with only minimal alcohol and some acidity balanced by malty sweetness. As the yeast continues to work you should see bubbling on the surface and the alcohol content will rise as will the acidity. After the yeast activity dies down the beer will quickly turn to vinegar, so don’t be afraid to try it while it is actively fermenting.)
Caution: This beer recipe does not pasteurize or boil the ingredients. Make sure to practice good brewing hygiene. Do not try the beer until it has had enough time for the pH level to drop below 4.6