How Beer Ruled the Ancient World

While the Romans adored wine, ancient Egyptians loved a good beer. Beer during that time was flavored with mandrakes, olive oil and dates, which accounted for the sweetness. It was only with the rise of beer among medieval monks that hops were thrown into the mix. Even though hops are the base of beer today, there were rivals in the medieval world. For many brewers, flavor additives were a necessity. For example, Bavarian beers were fermented in open barrels that were exposed to bacteria and were liable to give it an “off taste.” To cover up the taste, brewers would add other ingredients, including legumes, salt, chalk, soot, and even ox bile and chicken blood. Beer has to be pretty bad for you to add bile to improve the taste. In 1516, Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV issued the beer purity law, which stipulated that only barley, hops and water could be used in Bavarian beer. It was only when the Romans turned Egypt into the bread-basket of the Roman empire that breweries were replaced with granaries. With that the beer recipes of the Egyptians were lost.