The Great Beer Experiment

The proof of the pudding is in the drinking…

Quintessential blokes down the pub, Billy Quin and Declan Moore, here deploy the street-smarts logic that, in the paraphrased words of Homer Simpson, makes beer the cause of and solution to all of archaeology’s problems. Next week we will be serialising the latest Current Archaeology Article ‘Past Orders: The Archaeology of Beer.’ Until then, try this one from the archives to wet your whistle. Take it away lads…

Billy: All we had to do was make one bottle. We made hundreds of bottles, and those bottles are gone. So people have voted with their pallets and their bellies.

Dec: (Staring into the middle distance, remembering the taste slightly better than Billy) …their Bellies. They voted with their Bellies. But I have no doubt, at this point, that Fullachts were used for making beer.

Billy: All we’re doing right now is flying a kite. It’s a theory. There’s absolutely no hard evidence for it. But if you add up the circumstantial evidence…

Dec: And the experimental evidence…

Billy: …And you look at examples through Scandinavia and Britain, this just makes sense. And if you witnessed the process today, it worked and people enjoyed it. And that’s the proof.

Dec: And if we’re proved wrong, and someone turns round to us in five days time, and points out a flaw. We’ll immediately go “hands up, brilliant, yep, OK. Yeah we see that.”

Billy: So there’s the Gauntlet (waging finger) it’s thrown down. Give us the flaw.


  1. Lad on a lunch break says:

    Top idea lads – certainly as good as most of the others and definately better than some. But. Forgive my ignorance of Irish sites but aren’t burnt mounds usually found in areas devoid of anything contemporary with burnt mounds and aren’t they usually devoid of any aretefacts (aside from animal bone)?
    This being so, what if we start from the position that these sites were deliberately secluded/remote and even maybe that using certain cultural indicators was taboo?

    I’m thinking that all the usual suspects could still be valid.

    So, what if they really are all still valid and these sites were used with different functions but certain taboos remained in place?

    Cound they be places restricted to or from certain elements of the society.

    What about a mens place?

  2. A liquid lunch, I hope?

    A damn good set of questions. A kind of working men’s tap room scenario, with the women presumably playing bingo in the snug?

    Difficult to read off function from these sites – let alone gender relations – but I admire your attempt. From tomorrow we will be serialising a three part series taking up Dec and Billy’s challenge. Were Burnt Mounds Bronze Age microbreweries? And if so, what does that do for the Sauna/Cooking/Textile interpretations.

    Right now I’m off to the bar. What’ll you have?

  3. Lady on a rampage says:

    F**k off you sexist b**t***s, if you knew anything about anthropological social relations you would see it is more likely a womens place – once a month

  4. Juan Moreno says:

    Lady on a rampage clearly dunno nothing bout anthropology neiver. Show us a culture where the women are allowed to brew beeer or live apart from their men folk LAdy?

  5. Psychoprostheticist says:

    Well, Juan Moreno
    most of what is thought about primitive societies is conjecture based on some reamining artefacts and a crossreference of known societies.
    I believe it was quite normal in Native American socities that women would spend quit a lot of time apart, and it is most likely in hunter gathering societies when the men were on the hunt the camp would be maintained mostly by women, caring for the fire and for the next generation.
    I suspect you’d find, Juan Moreno, that primitive society had few mwmbers as primitive as you. Such manners would not have been tolerated in a social group.

  6. Lad on a lunch break says:

    Hello Psychoprostheticist
    I think quite a few modern primitive societies have been studied so i dont think you can claim most of what is thought is conjecture. Don Juan may well have been over-simplifying a certain gender displacement but taking the earlier premise that these sites are deliberately set apart so that, possibly, esoteric performances may be enacted, notwithstanding they may have been hunter-gatherering, an interesting dichotmy is exposed. The ommision of cultural indicators at these sites must surely be key?

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