Archaeologist details ancient quest for ‘extreme fermented beverages’

A noted archaeologist will visit Willamette University on Thursday, April 7, to tell the story of humanity’s ingenious, intoxicating quest for the perfect drink — including historic attempts at brewing beer and wine and modern-day efforts to recreate these drinks.

The lecture, titled “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Extreme Fermented Beverages,” is at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall inside the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The speaker, Patrick McGovern, is scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. McGovern has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Brew Masters” and has worked with Dogfish Head Brewery to recreate ancient drinks such as Midas Touch, based on the residue found in Iron Age drinking vessels.

Drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples, McGovern will trace a history that begins with early humanoids enjoying a wild fruit or honey wine, and details the ways people in the Middle East, China and the New World domesticated plants of all kinds to make “extreme fermented beverages.”

McGovern will be available to sign books after the lecture.

The lecture is co-sponsored by Willamette’s Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology and the Salem Society of the Archaeological Institute of America. American Sign Language interpretation will be available. Info: 503-370-6654.