Chinese have been brewing beer for 5000 years


Funnels used at the ancient breweryJiajing Wang/PNAS

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It’s the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

For instance, the scientists found a pottery stove, which the ancient brewers would have heated to break down carbohydrates to sugar. And the brewery’s underground location was important for both storing beer and controlling temperature — too much heat can destroy the enzymes responsible for that carb-to-sugar conversion…

The research group inspected the pots and jugs and found ancient grains that had lingered inside. The grains showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. Residue from inside the uncovered pots and funnels was tested with ion chromatography to find out what the ancient beer was made of. The 5,000-year-old beer “recipe” was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The recipe included a mix of fermented grains: broomcorn millet, barley and Job’s tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley. The recipe also called for tubers, the starchy and sugary parts of plants, which were added to sweeten and flavor the beer…

Gotta love it. I think any culture that bumps into natural fermentation – and the products thereof – would have carried on to research and expand uses of the process.

Of course, I’m a devotee. I started my weekly “poolish” a couple hours ago – that will end up in a home-baked loaf of bread Wednesday morning. And my wife brews hard cider every couple of weeks. For a couple of geek hermits, we keep occupied in pretty traditional ways.

Former central bank adviser says China needs to invest in, expand, the nation’s infrastructure


Click to enlargeAssociated Press
Taking a road trip this summer?

Increasing infrastructure investment is the best way to boost economic growth in China and doing so doesn’t undermine efforts to overhaul the economy, according to former central bank adviser Yu Yongding.

“If China does not increase infrastructure investment now, it may miss a historical opportunity,” Yu said Saturday at an economics conference in Beijing….

The time is right because of the global economic downturn, falling commodity prices, the low interest rates in Western countries and overcapacity in China, said Yu, now a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Regional debt surged in China after the 2008 global financial crisis, when the government urged provinces that were then banned from selling bonds to boost infrastructure spending with a $611 billion stimulus package.

The stimulus was right to do because without it “China would have experienced a hard landing,” Yu said. “At the time it was hard to avoid the increase in debt and leverage.”

There are small bits here and there unique to China’s context. Inevitable. What struck me when I listened to Asia-centric economists discussing the Beijing conference – and Yu Yongding’s comments – was similarities to the economic situation in the United States.

If anything, the need to direct dollar$ and boots onto the path of rebuilding infrastructure – rather than China’s need for expansion – is more imperative. You can’t redirect an economy into healthier modern avenues if the streets and bridges are crumbling. You can’t retrain workers into new relevant skills, building new crafts and companies if the heart of government enterprise is gutted by Congress.

Who is older than you? Who is younger?

Everyone seems old when you’re a kid. People tower over you and do things you can’t even fathom, like walk on just your feet. In high school, elementary school students look like babies, and college kids seem way more mature than they actually are. After college, the ideas of old and young start to get kind of fuzzy, especially a decade out, as I can tell you first-hand.

That feeling got me to thinking. How many people are still older than me? Who’s younger? I found out.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 6.03.43 PM

Based on the 5-year American Community Survey estimates from 2014, just over half of the US population was born before me. It’s just a couple of more years until I’m older than the majority of the population. Gulp…

This is your life.Years You Have Left to Live, Probably…

Click through to the article and that scary interactive graphic. I won’t tell you exactly, though my mind still feels like I’m 26 years old – I’m at a point in that graph where the folks older than me are in low single digits.

Thanks, Ursarodinia [I think]