9th Experimental Archaeology Conference poster – Flynn

Fulachtaí fia and beer brewing 

Gerard Flynn

Independent Researcher

This presentation will summarise my experimental work and results on beer making in a fulacht fia undertaken as part of my honours thesis in Applied Archaeology at the Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo in 2008. The starting point for my thesis was experimental work undertaken Billy Quinn and Declan Moore in 2007 that introduced the idea that fulachtaí fia were used for the brewing of beer. The purpose of my thesis was to replicate and improve upon the initial experiment and test the feasibility beer making in a fulacht fia. The presentation will detail my experiment and its results, comment on Quinn and Moore’s theory and suggest future research.

The experiment involved the construction of a fulacht fia including the construction of a wooden trough and sourcing local granite and sandstone. Barley was chosen for brewing into beer as in antiquity and modern brewing barley is the most popular choice for making beer (Nelson 2005, 2-3). The malting process was started in IT Sligo’s replica Bronze Age pots. The barley was then heat treated in a commercial oven and crushed using a rotary quern. The fulacht fia was then ‘fired up’ to mash the barley. This process produced some interesting observations about the heating of the stones and water and the practicalities involved. The product was then returned to the pots for fermentation. Organic apple peels, blueberries and heather were added to provide a natural source of yeast and the pots were sealed with goat
skin. The fermentation process was completed within 8 days and two hundred pints of beer were brewed. Samples of the beer were analysed in the laboratory using gas chromatography to test the alcohol content. Left over malted barley was used to make bread, baked directly on the hot stones within the fulacht fia.

 

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