Brew Pub, Slightly Aged

I can enjoy a cold brew in almost any environment. From a fine dining experience in a haute five star establishment to a weeknight special in a choice national chain during happy hour (cheap appetizers are a plus) to an out of the way – and way off the beaten path – hangout for the locals. I’m not that picky. In fact, I can make myself comfortable with a beer in hand almost anywhere.

Among my favorite places to go are old bars. There’s something about being in one from an age gone by that I like a lot. They have a more relaxed feel. Comfortable is a word I’d use to describe the ones I like the most.

Recently I was reading through a few online rags I follow and ran across an article about a slightly older beer joint. I’ll share a snap of the headline and you’ll see why it caught my eye:


Nice to see that beer drinking in taverns has been a popular thing for so long. It feels good to be a member of such an old club.

More about this old hangout from Popular Archaeology: “Archaeologists from the Penn Museum, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Pisa, have uncovered a large tavern dating back to 2,700 BCE in the city of Lagash, located in southern Iraq. With an open-air dining area and a partial kitchen, the researchers found the ancient pub was complete with benches, a refrigerator, an oven, and the remains of old food—shedding light on the people who lived there, including a historically overlooked ‘middle class.'”

Details: this find is part of an ongoing archeological exploration located in the area associated with Mesopotamia.

Some of the world’s earliest cities were constructed within the broader area of Mesopotamia, along with what’s likely the world’s oldest writing system. The citizens of this area contributed to many important discoveries and developments in astronomy, mathematics and architecture. Many cultures and empires flourished in Mesopotamia over millennia, including the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians.

A Google Map snap to give you an idea of the location of the dig:

Two things required more explanation for me. A little research and I found what I was after.

First, what about the beer? Credit to ASOR for the answer:

“What exactly was Mesopotamian beer? Known as kaš in Sumerian or šikaru in Akkadian, it was a barley-based fermented beverage, typically brewed using two key ingredients: malted barley and a special kind of barley bread (or a looser barley product) called bappir. Many beers also included emmer wheat, date syrup, and other flavorings, but there is no evidence for the use of hops. Although the beers were sometimes referred to as ‘filtered’ or ‘strained,’ most probably included a significant amount of solid matter. Cuneiform documents refer to a number of different types of beer. In the earliest documents (c. 3000 BCE), nine different types are mentioned but are difficult to translate. During the Early Dynastic period (c. 2500 BCE), at least five types were recognized: golden, dark, sweet dark, red, and strained. By the Ur III period (c. 2100 BCE), beer was being categorized primarily in terms of its quality or strength: ordinary, good, and very good – or, perhaps, ordinary, strong, and very strong.”

Second, what about the refrigerator? For starters, it’s called a “zeer”. Cool name. Here’s a modern version with instructions at this link on how to build your own:


Next time you get the chance stop in at your local tavern and have a cold brew. It’s an easy club to join and there’s lots of members. You probably already know a few.

Further reading if you’re interested:

Archaeologists find 5,000-year-old tavern in Iraq, refrigerator still intact

At a southern Iraq site, unearthing the archaeological passing of time (Penn Today)

Lagash Archaeological Project (UPenn – Entire Project)

Lagash Archaeological Project (UPenn Museum)

Penn Museum Researchers Uncover Ancient Tavern in Southern Iraq, Complete with 5,000-Year-Old Fridge

Methods of Food Preparation in Mesopotamia (requires JSTOR subscription)