Ancient Beer and Brewing with Bettina Arnold

By Aislinn Sanders

Recently, Bettina Arnold was interviewed by the Wisconsin Public Radio Morning Show and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for her knowledge on ancient beer brewing methods. It is her hope that she can get those uninterested in conventional history matters to find an interest in the topic through applying history to their own hobbies and tastes.

According to Arnold, understanding the history of fermentation allows us to better realize cultural identification through cuisine. Fermented foods and drinks help to aid in digestion as well as extracting nutrients from what we eat. Additionally, alcohol serves to make communication easier between individuals (through easing inhibitions and anxieties) and marks significant events in the lives of the drinkers (such as a toast at weddings). Alcohol was also vitally important in German burial practices.

Over the past few years, Arnold has teamed up with local homebrewer Jeff Enders to revive and interpret ancient recipes. Her interest in these ancient brews initially began following the excavation of a cauldron used for brewing and wondering what the original drink may have tasted like. In attempting to recreate ancient recipes through trial and error, the resulting drinks may not resemble modern beer at all. According to Enders, thinking about history through this lens allows him to analyze why certain ingredients are commonly used depending on the region of the world and time period the recipes came from.