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Early Frenchmen enjoyed home brew
by Staff Writers
Montepellier, France (UPI) Jun 14, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Early inhabitants of France enjoyed a brew or two, archaeologists from Centre de Bio-Archeologie et d'Ecology in Montepellier reported Tuesday.

An analysis at the Roquepertuse excavation site in Provence found poorly preserved barley grains, suggesting germination, as well as equipment and other evidence of malting in the home, the center said in a release.

Taken together, the discoveries suggest the French had an early passion for beer-brewing as well as wine-making as far back as the fifth century B.C.

The research was published online in Springer's Human Ecology journal.

Until now, researchers found only evidence of wine production in the region. Laurent Bouby and his team analyzed three samples of sediment from excavations done in the 1990s, finding carbonized plant remains in all three samples, dominated by barley.

Based on the equipment found at the dwelling, the researchers suggest the inhabitants soaked the grain in vessels, spread it and turned it during germination on a flat paved floor area, dried the grain in an oven to halt germination, and used domestic grindstones to grind the malted grain. Hearths and containers were likely used for fermentation and storage, the researchers theorized.

"The Roquepertuse example suggests that beer was really produced within the context of domestic activities," the authors said in their paper. "Compared to other archaeo-botanical and archaeological evidence, it contributes to portraying a society which combined an intricate use of various alcoholic beverages including beer, which was probably of long-standing local tradition, and wine, which was, at least in part, promoted by colonial contacts with Mediterranean agents."

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