Israeli researchers drink to old times with ancient-style beer

Archaeologists believe the world's oldest site for alcohol production is located in a cave in today's northern Israel (AFP Photo/Dani NADEL)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli researchers announced Wednesday they had managed to extract yeast from ancient jars and produced a head-spinning concoction with it: beer similar to what the Pharaohs would have imbibed.

The beer with a six-percent alcoholic strength and similar in taste to a wheat ale was presented to journalists, as was mead at 14-percent strength.

Researchers from Israel's Antiquities Authority as well as three Israeli universities called it a first.

"I remember that when we first brought out the beer that we sat around the table and drank, we raised a cup to say l'chaim (a Hebrew toast meaning 'to life')," said Aren Maeir, an archaeologist with Bar-Ilan University.

"And I said either we'll be good or we'll all be dead in five minutes. We lived to tell the story."

The yeast was taken from the remains of jars found at archaeological sites.

Beer offered for tastings on Wednesday was made with a yeast that descended from one some 3,000 years old, the researchers said.

Yeast was also extracted that descended from some 5,000 years ago, according to the Antiquities Authority.

Modern beer-making methods were used to produce the tipple. The researchers hope to create one using ancient recipes in the future -- and possibly produce it commercially for sale at some point.

Researchers from Jerusalem's Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University were also involved in the project.