Credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

The concept of aging beer has been taken to a new level.

Traces detected by researchers in ancient Chinese pottery indicates what once was once contained inside. The ancient pottery vessels, dating from 3400-2900 BCE contains traces of bear, with ingredients from both the far East and the West, according to the researchers.

The findings represent the oldest evidence of beer production in China. They also show that the people in the region mastered an advanced brewing technology 5,000 years ago.

The researchers found yellow, sparkled residues in the wide openings of containers, and analysis reveals the ingredients; sorghum, broomcorn millets, barley, tubers from plant roots, and a southeast Asian plant known by the name adlay, or Job’s tears.

Finding evidence of barley in the beer was surprising to the scientists. As scientists had never seen barley in China this early before. Although barley is now common throughout China, it is unknown when it arrived.

5,000-year-old beer-making funnel was unearthed at a dig site in the Wei River banks. Credit: Jiajing Wang/PNAS.

Barley is often used to make beer since it has high levels of amylase enzymes that promote the conversion of starches into sugars during the fermenting process. Barley is thought to been in use when making beer in ancient Babylon some 8,000 years ago.

“Beer was probably an important part of ritual feasting in ancient China,” says study author Jiajing Wang of Stanford University. “So it’s possible that this finding of beer is associated with increased social complexity and changing events of the time.”

The study indicates that the barley came to China much earlier than scientists had previously thought. The grain may have been used in beer production long before the grain was widespread in agriculture and used as a source of food.

Archaeologists have also found several artifacts and furnaces which indicate that the manufacturing and storage of beer took place at the site in Mijiya, near a tributary of the Wei River in northern China.

Beer is one of the world’s oldest known prepared beverages, it possibly dates back to the early Neolithic around 10,000 BCE. It is recorded in written history from ancient Iraq and ancient Egypt. Some archaeologists even speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations.

The 5,000-year-old beer “recipe” was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Revealing a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in China