Although wine seems to be the alcoholic beverage of choice in the Bible, residents of the Land of Israel have produced beer for at least five millennia. Not satisfied with excavating and studying ancient breweries, researchers have now recreated one of their products. Robin Ngo writes:
Scholars from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Tel Aviv University, and Bar-Ilan University isolated, extracted, and sequenced yeast cells from ancient beer and mead jugs unearthed in excavations around Israel. The vessel fragments came from Ein-Besor in the Negev desert and a dig at ha-Masger Street in Tel Aviv, two early Bronze Age IB (ca. 3100 BCE) sites where there was an Egyptian presence; from an Iron Age (ca. 850 BCE) [brewery] at the Philistine site of Tell es-Safi/Gath; and from an early Persian period (5th-century BCE) layer at Ramat Raḥel, situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In all, the researchers were able to experiment with six yeast strains extracted from 21 vessels.
“These jars date back to the reign of Egyptian pharaoh Narmer, to the Aramean king Hazael, and to the prophet Nehemiah, who, according to the Bible, governed Judea under Persian rule,” explained an IAA press release. . . .
“This ancient yeast allowed us to create beer that lets us know what ancient Philistine and Egyptian beer tasted like,” said the Hebrew University scholar Ronen Hazan, one of the [researchers]. “By the way, the beer isn’t bad. Aside from the gimmick of drinking beer from the time of Pharaoh, this research is extremely important to the field of experimental archaeology—a field that seeks to reconstruct the past.”