Inspired by ancient Chinese alcohol preparation techniques, The Field Museum has partnered with Off Color Brewing to launch a new limited edition beer this July. The brew is called Qing Ming. The beer’s creation was inspired by archeological findings from Taixi and a Changzikou tomb, which date to the Late Shang/Western Zhou Dynasties circa 1600-722 BCE.
This beer is a combination of traditional Asian brewing techniques resulting in a taste profile of peaches and lemon rind with fragrant aromas of tea, bubblegum, and sake. Existing evidence shows a wide range of beverage types were produced during historic times in China, and some of the ingredients that were used are no longer legal in beer production today.
Curator of Anthropology Gary Feinman explained the functional role of alcoholic beverages in human history: “In China, alcohol is referred to as the ‘water of history’ because of its close connections to domestic practices and dynastic rituals. Alcohol traditionally has ties to feasting ceremonies throughout human history, thereby encouraging cooperation, which is essential to the survival of communities.”
Analysis of excavated materials illustrates early evidence of mold-based sacchrificaton (the conversion of starch to sugar), which is China's unique contribution to the production of alcoholic beverages.
“I think it’s great to use this enjoyable pastime to convey knowledge derived from history,” said Feinman. “I’m glad The Field Museum is able to partner with Off Color Brewing to give new life to traditional recipes.”
The new beer is currently available on tap and in bottles at the museum’s Field Bistro, as well as in bottles at select retailers.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
New beer inspired by ancient Chinese alcohol prep, QingMing is the product of The Field Museum and Off Color Brewing. The beer is in limited release this summer (photo courtesy of The Field Museum).