Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Beery Lectures: Science Pub and Archaeological Ale

Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote about the "klingendes glas," the ringing cup that shatters.*

He intuited, as only poets can, that at the origins of the universe, at that great moment of transformation, there was a vibrating pint, the big bang beer.

Beer was also at the center of civilization, crucially bound up in the development of agriculture and social transformation that led to the first cities.

So it's with great excitement that we note two lectures in April that talk history and beer! One treats beer on a cosmic scale, the other a human scale. Both taste great!

Last fall you may recall the Theobroma at Venti's.**

A modern recreation of an ancient beer, Theobroma from Dogfish Head is 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).
At the time we were looking forward to the lecture, "Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Extreme Fermented Beverages."

It's here! On Thursday, April 7th 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 talk at Willamette. He 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.

On Tuesday, April 12th, Science Pub returns to Brown's Towne Lounge:
What does the Universe look like and what is our place in it? How is it evolving and what did it look like in the distant past? What will it be like in the future?

If you’ve pondered these questions, the April 12 Science Pub Salem is the place for you.

Join Willamette University physics chair and cosmologist Dr. Richard (Rick) Watkins in an exploration of the Universe and its evolution.

After Watkins’ presentation, “The Big Bang and Beyond: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe,” we’ll pass the microphone to you for your questions.
Grab a beer and ponder the imponderables!

* Hey, it's National Poetry Month!

** See the news at the VentiBlog and reaction at EatSalem.


  1. You had me at "Rainer Maria Rilke once said."

  2. Here's a poem for summer nights & cherry trees!

    Back Yard
    by Carl Sandburg

    Shine on, O moon of summer.
    Shine to the leaves of grass, catalpa and oak,
    All silver under your rain to-night.

    An Italian boy is sending songs to you to-night from an accordion.
    A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month;
    to-night they are throwing you kisses.

    An old man next door is dreaming over a sheen that sits in a
    cherry tree in his back yard.

    The clocks say I must go—I stay here sitting on the back porch drinking
    white thoughts you rain down.

    Shine on, O moon,
    Shake out more and more silver changes.

  3. And now I am sad that I think of something else when I read: dreaming over a sheen that sits in a cherry tree.