Ancient Brews

Ancient Brews Rediscovered and Re-created

Patrick E. McGovern

with a foreword by Sam Calagione

Additional Meal Pairings and Mood-Enhancing Atmospherics

Soft cover:


American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), Nancy Lapp Popular Book

Patrick E. McGovern—part modern scientist, part Indiana Jones—uncovers and re-creates the oldest alcoholic beverages ever found.

In Ancient Brews, Patrick E. McGovern takes us on a fascinating journey through time, back to the beginning when our ancestors were likely already experimenting with high-sugar fruits, honey, roots and cereals, herbs and tree resins to concoct the perfect drink.

Early beverage-makers must have marveled at the magical process of fermentation. Their amazement would have grown as they drank the mind-altering liquids, which were to become the medicines, religious symbols, and social lubricants of later cultures.

Interweaving archaeology and science, McGovern leads us on his adventures to China, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Scandinavia, Honduras, Peru, and Mexico. We share in his laboratory discoveries, including an early Neolithic “cocktail” from China made of wild grapes, hawthorn fruit, rice, and honey; an elite New World cacao beverage that gods and kings delighted in; and the Midas Touch of central Turkey. These liquid time capsules defied modern conventions by mixing wines, beers, meads, and botanicals together into heady, delicious extreme beverages.

For the intrepid reader, homebrew interpretations of each ancient beverage and culturally appropriate matching meal recipes are provided, transporting our senses and imaginations “back to the future.”

Endorsements & Reviews

“Imagine: an archaeologist travels the world, testing the residue on pottery shards to unlock ancient recipes for beer and wine. And then—it gets better—he re-creates those recipes so that you, too, can raise a glass of King Midas’s brew. Ancient Brews is an extraordinary, globe-trotting journey through the remarkable history of our ancient connection with alcohol. Patrick McGovern is both a brilliant scientist and a gifted storyteller. This astonishing book belongs on the shelf of every wine and beer aficionado. The historical and scientific perspective is sure to astonish and delight, and the recipes will lead to some lively experimentation among homebrewers.” — Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist

“In his compulsively readable new book, Patrick McGovern takes us on a rollicking journey to discover how our ancient ancestors around the world made their ‘extreme’ beers and other fermented beverages—and how he and his gifted associates are re-creating them today. A must-read not only for brewers, but for anyone who loves to drink these emblems of civilization.” — Ian Tattersall, author of A Natural History of Wine