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Field Museum Brings Back Ancient Peruvian Purple Corn Beer


An archaeologist and two brewers made beer with a thousand-year-old recipe

Off-Color Brewing and the Chicago Field Museum have recreated a thousand-year-old purple corn beer from Peru.

Archaeologists were excited when they discovered an ancient brewery in the Andes mountains in Peru, and now there’s reason for everyone to be excited, because the Field Museum and a Chicago craft brewery have joined forces to recreate a beer from a thousand years ago.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the original beer was brewed by women who lived cloistered in the brewery in the Wari Empire a millennium ago in Peru. John Laffler and David Bleitner from Chicago’s Off-Color Brewing have teamed up with Field Museum archaeologist Ryan Williams to reverse-engineer the recipe from residue found in vessels from the brewery. [slideshow:1128]

It’s a pretty fancy-sounding beer, too. The recipe is made with Peruvian purple corn and pink peppercorns, and tasters say it has a “very biting character,” with citrus and black peppercorn flavors and a deep color that’s both reddish and purplish.

The beer is called Wari, and it will be released on March 3 at the Field Museum Bistro, and after that will be available at liquor stores around Chicago.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

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When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

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Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


How to brew ancient Wari beer

Reader comments

Share this story

When the people of the Wari Empire (predecessors of the Inca) abandoned the southern Andes around 1100 CE, they made sure nobody else could enjoy their former home by destroying the brewery that, for 400 years, had provided for lavish festivals held at the provincial center of Cerro Baúl.

"They intentionally and deliberately destroyed the site so that it couldn't be used by successor societies when they left," Field Museum Associate Curator & Professor of Anthropology Ryan Williams told Ars Technica. "The brewery itself was burned down at the end, and a great feast accompanied that burning, in which the special ceramic vessels from which the local lords would have been served were smashed into the burning flames."

The smashed pots that were left behind, however, contained clues to the ancient beer recipe that once held an empire together.


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