He was a wise man who invented beer. — Plato
A couple of nights ago some friends of Shanghaiist took part in a pub quiz at the British Bulldog Pub on Wulumuqi Lu. We know this because they phoned from a toilet cubicle once every 15 minutes to whisper us the questions that they were having trouble answering.
Here’s a question we think would go down a treat in a pub quiz: Which people were the first in the world to brew beer? Trivia buffs may well pipe up and say the Sumerians. They’d be close, too: the ancient inhabitants of modern day Iraq first blew the froth off a cold one way back in 5000 BC.
As it turns out, however, they are absolute rookies compared to the Kings of Fermentation, the Chinese. Excavations at Jiahu, a Neolithic village in northern China, have revealed that brewers were concocting the amber nectar in this part of the world as long as 9000 years ago.
Not only that, but a Delaware brewery called Dogfish Head (which we’re guessing is a synonym for a hangover) has used the archaeological material from Jiahu — residues from several pottery jars — and brewed a batch of this beer which the Chinese were ganbei-ing back in 7000 BC.
Unfortunately, the folks from Dogfish Head aren’t completely sure what type of drink they managed to concoct from the recipe of rice, honey, grapes and hawthorn-fruit.
It wasn’t a beer, it wasn’t a mead, and it wasn’t a wine or a cider. It was somewhere between all of them, in this gray area.
Hmmm … sounds like baijiu to us.
For the record, the brewery has labelled its new drink “Chateau Jiahu”. Better than “Reeb“. (Still stumped? Read it backwards.)
We don’t particularly care about its name or its history, so long as we can buy a large mug of it in Shanghai for less than RMB 20.
Could be another 9000 years before that happens though.