Brew & Conservation


Patrick McGovern, Scientific Director of Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the Penn Museum, examines a sample of the “King Midas” beverage residue under a microscope. Photo © Pam Kosty / Wikimedia through a Creative Commons license

And in other beer-related news, thanks to the Nature Conservancy’s contributors at Cool Green Science, particularly for Matt Miller’s article Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione on Archaeology, Conservation and Beer:

I’m fascinated that people learned how to harness microbes to ferment beverages before they even knew microbes existed. Indeed, fermentation is one of humanity’s earliest endeavors. The essential scientist in this realm is Dr. Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist with the University of Pennsylvania. McGovern analyzes ancient fermentation vessels to determine what ancient cultures drank. His books on the topic combine archaeology, history and biology – a fascinating glimpse at yet another aspect of humanity’s rich relationship to a diverse earth.

McGovern is able to develop lists of ingredients of ancient brews. Fortunately, they aren’t relegated to the museum. He turned to Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Brewing, to develop modern interpretations of ancient ales. I’ve long followed Calagione and his self-described “off-centered” approach, whether through his beers, his popular television show or various articles.

I recently learned Calagione also has a connection to The Nature Conservancy. His wife Mariah serves on The Nature Conservancy in Delaware’s Board of Trustees. Dogfish Head sponsors an annual run, the Dogfish Dash, with proceeds benefit the Conservancy in Delaware. This year the Dash drew 2,500 runners from 26 states, and raised $100,000 for conservation.

I recently had the chance to talk to Calagione about the ancient ales, the role of nature in beer and the importance of conservation. Here are excerpts from Calagione.

Foraging for Beer

When I was researching to open a brewery, I wanted to try to do something very distinct, very inexpensively. I was a 24-year-old kid with a business plan, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to compete dollar-for-dollar with the first generation of great American craft breweries that opened in the late ‘80s, like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada…

Read the whole story here.

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