Lakehead University organizing a tasty talk on ancient beer

Photo of Patrick McGovern in Egypt with the sphinx.

Patrick McGovern has travelled to Egypt and other countries around the world to re-create ancient beer.

February 23, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University’s Carney Matheson will participate in a thirst-quenching Research and Innovation Week discussion about ancient beer at the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel on Saturday, March 3 at 7 pm.

The talk, called Ancient Brews Rediscovered and Re-created, will be hosted by Patrick McGovern, a chemist with the University of Pennsylvania Museum who has travelled around the world to re-create ancient ale.

 McGovern wrote a book with the same name as the talk. He will discuss ancient beers and the evolution of brewing. The Sleeping Giant Brewery will provide samples of ancient beers brewed following recipes determined through ancient history, archaeology and chemistry.

“There will be two beers to sample,” said Matheson, an Anthropology professor at Lakehead University. “One is from the Etruscans, a pre-Roman people in Italy. Their golden days were around 800 BC and they collapsed in the third century BC with the Roman-Etruscan wars. The second is from the Norse – this is a Northern European beer. The earliest evidence for a brew in Scandinavia is 3,500 BC, however Scandinavian alcoholic drinks were made from local ingredients and thus varied enormously.”

The exact date for the second ale is difficult to ascertain, Matheson said. “They used this style of drink right up until the 14th century AD.”

The Paleo-brews, which may include wild fruits, honey, cereals, and botanicals, have not been sampled yet. “We don’t know what the beers will taste like,” he said. “Hopefully good.”

McGovern performs the same type of research as Matheson – known as ancient residue analysis.

“I first met Dr. McGovern in 1995 when I was doing residue analysis in Honduras on Mayan sacrificial vessels. He provided advice on residue analysis and archaeological chemistry. Dr. McGovern has focused his research on ancient brewed beverages from all over the world and become renowned for his research.”

McGovern will also visit Lakehead University to examine the research on residue analysis which Matheson and his students are becoming known for across Canada. “His advice will be valuable to residue research at Lakehead University,” Matheson said. “In addition some of Dr. McGovern's techniques will be discussed and added to the Lakehead University research approach.” 

McGovern’s book, Ancient Brews Rediscovered and Re-created, which offers instructions on brewing ancient beer, will be for sale and he will sign copies.

Tickets are $15 – available at the Sleeping Giant Brewery, the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel, the Department of Anthropology at Lakehead University, and remaining tickets will be offered at the Anthropology booth at the Intercity Shopping Centre during Research and Innovation Week on Saturday, March 3. The talk will be in the Prince Arthur Hotel’s Provincial room from 7 until 10 pm on Saturday, March 3.





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Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, as well as first in Total Research Dollars, second for Citations, and third for Scholarships and Bursaries. In 2017, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the third consecutive year. Visit