After almost three years of preparation, last week finally saw the completion of the brewing experiment at the Weald and Downland Museum. Four barrels of sixteenth-century beer are in the last stages of fermentation, having been brewed with carefully selected yeast, heritage grains, and period equipment. These will soon be moved to three different labs for analysis.
Prof John Morrissey at University College Cork, who researched and reconstituted the yeast will undertake analysis from a microbiological perspective. Prof Janet Montgomery at Durham University is examining the isotopes in the beer. She will measure the change in O-isotopes from cold water to beer. This will help better understand how oxygen isotopes are used to examine human mobility and migration. In addition, C,N and S-isotopes will be examined to better understand beer in dietary studies.
Finally, nutritional analysis is taking place at the School of Biosciences, Nottingham University, under the direction of Dr Stephen Lawrence. This will allow us to consider in great detail, the dietetic value of beer in early modern society.
The entire process has been filmed by Storylab at Anglia Ruskin University, under the direction of Dr Shreepali Patel. This film will show the immense interdisciplinary efforts involved in bringing this project to life, following the story all the way from the archive to the finished beer.
Results to follow soon…