At Venti's right now is a modern recreation of an ancient beer. Theobroma from Dogfish Head is on tap. It's a gruit, a beer without hops. It's part of Dogfish's "Ancient Ales" series:
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into 'food of the gods') is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).
By itself this is already an interesting curiousity, but it gets even better. It turns out, on April 7th, 2011 (yeah, that's next year), Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, will give a lecture titled, "Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Extreme Fermented Beverages."
The speaker will illustrate the biomolecular archaeological approach by describing the discovery of the most ancient, chemically-attested alcoholic beverage in the world, dating back to about 7000 B.C. Based on the analyses of some of the world’s earliest pottery from Jiahu in the Yellow River valley of China, a mixed fermented beverage of rice, hawthorn fruit/grape, and honey was reconstructed. The laboratory’s most recent finding is a fermented beverage made from the fruit pod of the cacao tree, as based on analyses of ca. 1200 B.C. pottery sherds from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras.Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner.
So if you want to double up on culinary archeology, be sure you taste at Venti's and hit the lecture in April. You know, plan a little!