2019 October - Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference (REARC), USA - Keynote

“Dr. Pat” Photo by Alison Dunlap

“Dr. Pat” in the Lower Egyptian Gallery of the Penn Museum, with the largest sphinx in the Western hemisphere to his side and columns of the 13th c. B.C. Merenptah palace behind him. Photo by Alison Dunlap.

Keynote: Ancient Brews Rediscovered and Re-Created

by Patrick E. McGovern

Patrick McGovern takes us on a fascinating journey back in time to the dawn of brewing when our ancestors might well have made a Palaeo-brew of wild fruits, honey, cereals, and botanicals.  Early beverage-makers must have marveled at the magical process of fermentation.  Their amazement grew as they drank the mind-altering drinks, which were to become the medicines, religious symbols, and social lubricants of later cultures.  
McGovern recounts how the re-created Ancient Ales and Spirits of Dogfish Head Brewery came about as he circles the globe—to China, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Scandinavia, Honduras, Peru, and Mexico.  He interweaves archaeology and science, and tells the stories and struggles in making the most authentic versions of these liquid time capsules as possible.  Accompanying homebrew interpretations--brimming with unusual spicy, fruity, and malty aromas and tastes--and matching meal recipes help bring the past alive, as our senses and imaginations travel “Back to the Future.”

About Patrick McGovern

Patrick E. McGovern is the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, where he is also an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology. 

His academic background combined the physical sciences, archaeology, and history-an A.B. in Chemistry from Cornell University, graduate work in neurochemistry at the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology and Literature from the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department of the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the past three decades, he has pioneered the exciting interdisciplinary field of Biomolecular Archaeology which is yielding whole new chapters concerning our human ancestry, medical practice, and ancient cuisines and beverages.  

He is the author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton U., 2003/2004), also translated into French and Italian; 2nd ed. with Afterword due out in October 2019).  A wide range of fermented beverages are dealt with in Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages (U. California, 2009/2010, also translated into Korean and Japanese), which follows human ingenuity in making fermented beverages before and after our ancestors came “out of Africa” 200,000 years ago and traveled around the world.  

His latest book, Ancient Brews Rediscovered and Re-created (with Homebrew Interpretations, Meal Pairings, and Mood-enhancing Atmospherics including the appropriate music, attire, and setting), was published in June 2017 (WW Norton, New York, Japanese translation now being prepared).  It tells the scientific, experimental, and personal backstories of how the Dogfish Head Brewery series of Ancient Ales and Spirits came about (nine re-created brews thus far).  Ranging from galactic alcohol to the beginnings of life on earth to how our early ancestors reveled in extreme fermented beverages of every kind, the book lays the groundwork for how to go about bringing the past alive in as authentic a way as possible.  It sheds new light on the earliest biotechnology of our innovative species.  Dogfish Head has been one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the U.S., and its first and premier Ancient Ale, Midas Touch, is its most awarded brew and one of the best-selling honey-based fermented beverages in U.S.

Popularly, Dr. Pat is known as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages.”

Patrick E. McGovern
Biomolecular Archaeology Project
University of Pennsylvania Museum
Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
Tel.: (+1) 215.898.1164
FAX: (+1) 215.898.0657