Posts Tagged 'Beer'

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder

Twist and STOUT! Thursday is National Beer Day, so why not start the celebration early? We’ve got the cure for whatever may ALE you. After all, it’s no coincidence that beer rhymes with cheer! The words may be different, but the meaning is the same, whether you say gān bēi, Sláinte, Gesondheid, or bottoms up, cheers is cheers! So here’s to you and here’s to me—grab a cold one and check out these drinking accessories from around the world.

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

I’d Like a Kristall-Weissbier with My Van Gogh, Please

 

Guten tag!  September 20 marks the beginning of Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, held in Munich, Germany. In honor of this annual celebration, we’ve paired German and German-style beers with works of art in the DMA’s collection. The Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, originated in 1487 and decreed that water, barley, and hops were the only permissible ingredients in German beer. Realizing that this was somewhat limiting, the 1993 Provisional German Beer Law expanded to allow additional components such as yeast, wheat malt, and cane sugar. The pairings below follow the more generous spirit of the later beer law.

Let’s start with Weihenstephaner Original Premium. The Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery, in the Bavarian town of Freising, originated in 1040 as the monastery brewery of Benedictine monks and is the oldest existing brewery in the world. Weihenstephaner Original Premium is a classic German lager, with clean, crisp flavors with a touch of sweetness, like a doughy bread. This beer pairs well with Munich Still Life by William Michael Harnett. Harnett, an American artist born in 1848, studied in Munich from 1881 to 1885. This painting from 1882 shows a collection of everyday objects from his Germany experience (note the beer stein and doughy bread).

Weihenstephaner_Original Pair

Another product of Weihenstephaner is the Kristall-Weissbier. The Weissbier, or “white beer,” is one of five different types of wheat beers. The Kristall-Weissbier is named so because it is a filtered wheat beer, resulting in a crystal-clear quality (kristall is German for “crystal”). We couldn’t talk about a wheat beer without mentioning Vincent van Gogh’s Sheaves of Wheat, of course. In a letter to painter friend Emile Bernard, van Gogh wrote, “I even work in the wheat fields, in the full midday sun, without any protection . . .  I bask in it like the crickets.” Visualize, if you will, van Gogh painting in the middle of this sunny wheat field, surrounded by the yellow color of wheat that we see both in his painting and in the Kristall-Weissbier.

Kristall Pair

For a different type of wheat beer, try the Urweisse from Ayinger Brewery in Aying, Bavaria. The Urweisse is an example of the Dunkelweizen type of wheat beer; it is unfiltered, and a darker malt is used, which creates an amber color. Mellow in flavor, this beer has a banana scent and a mild fruity flavor. Since it is unfiltered, the yeast settles to the bottom; swirl the bottle around just before you pour it to circulate the yeast and flavor throughout each sip. Margaret Lee’s 2013 photograph titled Dots on Top comes to mind, with its fruit centerpiece and floating polka dots. Although it looks like a centerpiece of actual fruit, the artist created the banana, orange, and pear by hand, using plaster, which aptly complements the slightly artificial (in my opinion) banana scent from the Urweisse.

Urweisse Pair

The Aventinus Eisbock by Schneider Weisse brewery in Kelheim, Bavaria, also boasts a unique story. Traditionally, beer barrels were loaded up on carriages overnight for delivery. Legend has it that a barrel fell off a wagon during cold weather and broke, revealing a block of ice. Since alcohol does not freeze, a concentrated version of the beer remained liquid in the center, surrounded by frozen water. The stronger, undiluted beer has a sweet plum, banana, and clove flavor. Another item with a luxurious treat in the center is this ice bowl (with spoon), produced by the Gorham Manufacturing Company in the early 1870s. The ice within the bowl was admired as much as the beautiful silver container, since it had to be imported before the age of refrigeration.

Aventinus Pair

Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof brewery in Leipzig, Germany, is known as the home of the Gose. The Gose is a dormant style of beer; first brewed in the 16th century, it disappeared several times before resurfacing again in the 1980s. The Gose originated in the north German town of Goslar. Just a few hours from the Baltic Sea, the salt and mineral quality of the water lends a saltiness to the flavor of the beer. Sipping a Gose transports you immediately to a beach with salt in the water and whipped into the air by frothy waves, as seen in Sea by German artist Gerhard Richter.

Gose Pair

Many American breweries produce German-style beers as well. Hans Pils, brewed by Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, Texas, is inspired by pilsner beers of northern Germany. Much like German pilsners, the Hans Pils is a drier, crisp beer. The Hans Pils takes an American interpretation by incorporating a hop finish in the flavor. Hops are also integral to the design of this silver beer pitcher by Bailey and Company, creating a decorative detail for the elegant handle made of grain.

Hans Pils Pair

Last, but not least, is Pearl Snap by Austin Beerworks in Austin, Texas. Crisp and clean, the Pearl Snap is also a German-style pils (or pilsner). It is less hoppy, not as dry, and slightly more malty in flavor than the Hans Pils. The bright green and red can with its geometric design elements brings to mind Richard Anuskiewicz’s Untitled painting, date unknown (Anuskiewicz was born in 1930; his career spans the 1950s through the present).

Pearl Snap Pair

Special thanks to The Meddlesome Moth and Matt Quenette, Certified Cicerone (i.e., beer guru) and Beer Director at The Meddlesome Moth. This blog post would not have been possible without Matt’s assistance and encyclopedic knowledge of beer. If you are intrigued by any of these beers, most of them can be purchased by the bottle at The Meddlesome Moth.

Matt Quenette and Melissa Gonzales

Thanks also to Cyndi Long, who provided these beautiful images of the different beers.

Prost! (Cheers!)

Melissa Gonzales is the C3 Gallery Manager at the DMA. Although she enjoys drinking and learning about beer, she is no way an expert; however, she IS the 2nd annual DMA Texas Beer Tasting Competition Champion.

Artworks shown, in order:

William Michael Harnett, Munich Still Life, 1882, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase

Vincent van Gogh, Sheaves of Wheat, July 1890, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Margaret Lee, Dots on Top, 2013, Dallas Museum of Art through the Mary Margaret Munson Wilcox Fund; Jackson, Walker, Winstead, Cantwell, and Miller Photography Fund; and Campbell Contemporary Fund, © Margaret Lee

Ice bowl (with spoon), Gorham Manufacturing Company, c. 1871, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Gerhard Richter, Sea, 1972, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art League Fund, Roberta Coke Camp Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, and the Contemporary Art Fund: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Faulconer, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Marguerite and Robert K. Hoffman, Howard E. Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and two anonymous donors, © Gerhard Richter, Cologne, Germany

Beer pitcher, Bailey and Company, 1858-1860, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Professional Members League

Richard Anuszkiewicz, Untitled, n.d., Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman, © Richard Anuszkiewicz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Reproduction of this image, including downloading, is prohibited without written authorization from VAGA, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2820, New York, NY 10118. Tel: 212-736-6666; Fax: 212-736-6767; e-mail: info@vagarights.com

The Art (and Archaeology) of Good Cheer

Known as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages,” Dr. Patrick McGovern is a world-renowned expert on the origins of ancient fermented drinks and a leader in the emerging field of biomolecular archaeology. On Thursday evening, he will present the history of wine in a lecture entitled Uncorking the Past, part of the Museum’s Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology. Dr. McGovern tells us more about his unique archaeological research.

Dr. McGovern in his laboratory, examining a 3000-year-old millet wine, which was preserved inside a tightly lidded bronze vessel from a Chinese tomb. Photo: Penn Museum.

You oversee the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology – a leader in this cutting-edge field. What type of research do you conduct at the lab?

The Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory has been at the forefront of the revolution in uncovering the organic underpinnings of our species on this planet. We analyze ancient fermented beverages, foods, perfumes, dyes (such as Royal Purple), and other organics, which could only be imagined from ancient writings, using highly sensitive instruments in the laboratory (infrared spectrometry, gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, etc.). Molecular archaeology promises to open up whole new chapters relating to our human ancestry and genetic development, cuisine, medical practice, and other crafts over the past two million or more years.

Where do you find evidence of ancient food and drink, and what tools and technologies do you use to analyze that evidence?

Pottery, which is virtually indestructible and goes back to between 5000 and 13,000 B.C. in various parts of the world, absorbs ancient organics and is crucial to our research. By using organic solvents, we “tease out” the ancient organics, and then go to work with our battery of scientific instruments. Sometimes we work directly from residues, either deposited inside vessels of various materials or deposited elsewhere (e.g., on bones, textiles, etc.).

Dr. McGovern peers into a wine jar dating to 5400 - 5000 B.C. Photo: courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

In the course of your work, what has been your most surprising discovery?

There have been many, but the discovery of Royal Purple and the earliest resinated wine from Iran (circa 5400 B.C.) are two highlights.

Your academic background is varied, and you have degrees in both chemistry and archaeology. How did you become interested in the history of fermented beverages?

It was very serendipitous. As I moved from inorganic to organic chemical analysis of archaeological materials, we were successful in first detecting Royal Purple, a highly stable compound that had been preserved for over 3,000 years. This gave us the confidence to move on to wine, beer, and other materials. Grape wine was first, and came about when an associate, Virginia Badler, showed us shards of large jars from an early Iranian site (Godin Tepe) with residues inside that she believed to be wine deposits. She proved to be right, and the rest is history.

After the lecture on Thursday, we will have the opportunity to sample wines from Burgundy, as well as an artisan beer called Midas Touch. Please tell us about the beer, which was inspired by analysis you did on objects found in the tomb of the legendary King Midas.

It all started over fifty years ago with a tomb, the Midas Tumulus, in central Turkey at the ancient site of Gordion, which was excavated by the Penn Museum in 1957. Within that tomb, buried deep down in the center of a large mound, excavators found the body of a 60- to 65-year-old male, who had died normally. He lay on a thick pile of blue- and purple-dyed textiles, the colors of royalty in the ancient Near East. The excavators had found what would become one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of the 20th century – they had located what has since been identified as the tomb of Gordion’s most famous son, King Midas.

“King Midas” laid out in state on piles of purple- and blue-dyed textiles inside his coffin, from the northwest, with the large bronze drinking set in the background. Photo: courtesy of the Gordion Project, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Inside the tomb, surrounding the body, were 157 bronze vessels, including large vats, jugs, and drinking bowls that had been used in the final farewell dinner for the king outside the tomb. The body was then lowered into the tomb, along with the remains of the food and drink, to sustain him for eternity.

Surprising, none of the 157 drinking vessels were made of gold. Where then was the gold if this was the burial of Midas with the legendary golden touch? In fact, the bronze vessels, once the bronze corrosion was removed, gleamed just like the precious metal. The real gold, as far as I was concerned, was what these vessels contained – the remains of an ancient beverage, which was intensely yellow, just like gold. Chemical analyses of the residues – teasing out the ancient molecules – provided the answer: the beverage was a highly unusual mixture of grape wine, barley beer, and honey mead.

Jars filled with the spicy stew, served at the funerary feast of King Midas, can be seen inside one of the large vats. They were placed there after the fermented beverage, which they initially contained, had been served at the funerary banquet. These “left-overs” might have been intended for sustenance for the king in the afterlife. Photo: courtesy of the Gordion Project, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

You may cringe at the thought of mixing together wine, bee,r and mead, as I did originally. That’s when I got the idea to do some experimental archaeology. In essence, this means trying to replicate the ancient method by taking the clues we have and trying out various scenarios in the present. In the process, you hope to learn more about how the ancient beverage was made. To speed things up, I also decided to have a competition among microbrewers to try to reverse-engineer and see if it was even possible to make something drinkable from such a weird concoction of ingredients. Soon, experimental brews started arriving on my doorstep for me to taste – not a bad job, if you can get it, but not all the entries were that tasty.

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery ultimately triumphed. The beverage has since gone from one triumph to the next. Dogfish is the fastest growing microbrewery in the country, and “Midas Touch” has become its most awarded beverage.

Original Dogfish Head Brewery label for Midas Touch beer. Photo: courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

Be sure to watch Dr. McGovern and the team from Dogfish Head Brewery on The Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters, which chronicles their travels around the world searching for exotic ingredients and discovering ancient techniques to produce their award-winning beers.

Patrick E. McGovern is Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. His books include Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture and Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages. His research on the origins of alcoholic beverages has been featured in Time, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Nature, and numerous other publications.


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