Uncovering the secrets of Ireland’s ancient breweries

From Wired: Uncovering the Secrets of Ireland’s Ancient Breweries.

Hangovers rarely inspire scientific breakthroughs. But Billy Quinn’s eureka moment occurred on just such a head-pounding morning in 2003. After a night spent carousing at a pub in Galway, Ireland, he and colleague Declan Moore were discussing their plans for the day over a traditional breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, white pudding, beans, and fried potatoes. The two archaeologists were scheduled to excavate a nearby grassy mound known as a fulacht fiadh (pronounced "full-oct fee-ah"). About 5,000 of the mounds have been discovered throughout Ireland, most dating from 1500 to 500 BC. They’re not much to look at — excavation reveals a rectangular trough (fulacht is Gaelic for "recess") surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of burnt stones. No one’s certain what they were used for, but in a flash of insight, Quinn proposed a hypothesis in keeping with his nation’s cerevisaphilic reputation: The Bronze Age relics might just be Ireland’s first breweries. [continue]