Beer

“Iron Age sites in Israel have recently produced numerous remains, such as beer jugs and bottles, straw-tip strainers and donut-shaped fermentation stoppers, all of which provide evidence of Israelite beer drinking”

Iron Age sites in Israel have recently produced numerous remains, such as beer jugs and bottles, straw-tip strainers and donut-shaped fermentation stoppers, all of which provide evidence of Israelite beer drinking. Fermentation stoppers were used during the production process to seal the opening of the beer-making vessel from impurities, while allowing the resulting gas to escape through the small, cloth-stuffed hole.

The ceramic vessel commonly known as a beer jug, or, more properly, a side-spouted sieve jug, was designed for personal use. Whereas jugs meant for pouring had the spout at 180 degrees from the handle, these “beer jugs” placed the handle 90 degrees to the right of the spout. Thus the consumer would place the spout in his or her mouth while holding the jug with the right hand and then imbibe. The ceramic form is very widespread and was used to consume all sorts of alcoholic beverages. Similar vessels found in the Gordion tombs contained residues of a mixture of beer, wine and mead. The beer was sometimes also drunk from a communal vessel by several drinkers with straws. We have depictions from Egyptian tombs and Mesopotamian seals demonstrating this technique. Like today, drinking beer was often a social activity.

The final piece of evidence demonstrating that ancient Israelites drank beer invokes chemical analysis. Traces of beer are more difficult to detect chemically than wine, however. Because beer was made for immediate consumption, it stayed in jars for a significantly shorter time than wine, which was aged in ceramic vessels to improve the taste. Civilizations typically traded dried cereals and jars of wine rather than jars of beer.

Michael M. Homan, “Did the Ancient Israelites Drink Beer?”, Biblical Archaeology Review vol. 36, no. 5 (September/October 2010), 56.