Chapter 1.1.4 Sorts and Origin of Brewing Alcoholic Beverages by using grains

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To research the origin of brewing alcoholic drinks by using grains, two problems are worth considering. When did the brewing of alcoholic drinks by using grains originate? What were the earliest grain alcoholic drinks? These problems have been at add all the time .

Grains is mainly composed of starch, protein and fat etc., there are various kinds of microorganism existing in nature which can change grains into alcoholic drinks. Therefore, objectively there exists the condition in nature under which grains can be changed and be fermented into alcoholic drinks by itself. Did Brewing of Alcoholic Drinks by Using Grains Start During Agricultural Period or Before It?

When brewing of Alcoholic drinks by using grains possesses two quite different opinions. The traditional one was that brewing of alcoholic drinks started and developed after the agricultural period came into being, which was presented as early as Han Dynasty . A writer of Han Dynasty ,named Liu An stated: "The tasteful alcoholic drinks originated after agriculture's existence" , which is actually shared by many modern scholars. Someone even holds the viewpoint that brewing of alcoholic started after agriculture had developed to a certain degree and had surplus grains.

Another one is that brewing of alcoholic drinks began before the agricultural period. For example, in 1937, Mr. Wu Qi Chang, a famous archaeologist, presented a rather interesting view, "Our ancestors planted crops at first not for the purpose of food but for brewing of alcoholic drinks … eating food actually stemmed out of drinking the alcohol". This viewpoint had been rather popular in foreign countries but not been proved. Half a century later, an anthropologist of Pennsylvania University, U.S.A presented the similar opinion in his article, arguing that in the beginning mankind planted crops for the purpose of brewing beer, that our ancestors firstly found out grains collected could be used to brew alcoholic drinks, then began planting crops of corn so as to ensure raw material supply of brewing alcoholic drinks. This kind of viewpoint was based on the conjecture that during the primitive period man mainly relied on animals' meat, not on the corn; since man made a living on the corn, we could find another possible explanation why our ancestors planted crops of corn . It has been discovered abroad that the primitive people started brewing grain alcoholic drinks 10,000 years ago, at that time , they still led a wandering life.

It can be concluded that there are two different viewpoints on brewing of grain alcoholic drinks, i. e. it started ahead of agricultural age or it occurred after agricultural age. The new point of view presented, and the traditional one discussed and studied again and further have a positive significance for the origin and development of brewing alcoholic beverages and the development of human society. Whatever it might be, modern people think that it is not an invention but a discovery for man to begin brewing grain alcoholic drinks. Jiang Tong of Jin Dynasty was the first and earliest person who presented the opinion in 《Jiu Gao 》, Mr. Feng Xingfeng gave a detailed description: "Before or after agriculture appeared, the way of storing of grain was very primitive and simple. Natural grain was easy to get wet and mouldy or sprout, the cooked food left was also easy to get mouldy. These mouldy or sprouted grains were the natural Qu Nie in the primitive age. If soaked in water, it was easy to ferment into alcoholic drink—the material alcoholic drink. Man frequently found the natural Qu Nie and natural alcoholic drink and tasted them, gradually accepted them. In this way the man-made Qu Nie and man-made alcoholic drinks were invented." What Sorts of Chinese Primitive Grain Alcoholic Drinks Were They?

It is doubtless that the materials containing starch may be used to brew alcoholic drinks. The problem is how they are brewed. The alcoholic drinks brewed in different methods are different in sorts. In view of the whole world, Brewing of grain alcoholic beverages can be dividend into two major sorts. Beer is brewed by using the sprouted grain, which is not only saccharification mash but also brewing raw material. And rice alcoholic drinks are brewed in a quite different method, needing saccarification fermenting mash added in from the outside , which is called "Jiu Qu ". The alcoholic drink brewed in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian Period has proved that it belonged to a kind of beer, while the grain alcoholic drink brewed in China in the ancient time has yet been unaware of what kind of alcoholic drink it was.

Two characters "Jiu" (rice alcoholic drink) and "Li" (a kind of primitive beer ) occurred in "Jia Gou Wen" Chinese that was the oldest inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells. Some experts hold the opinion that they were different alcoholic drinks brewed in two different methods, to which a big number of experts disagree.
The first and rather popular opinion is that "Jiu" and "Li" have consistently been belonging to two different alcoholic drinks brewed in different ways. Based on this viewpoint, it can be speculated that our Chinese had grasped both the method of using the sprouted grain to brew alcoholic drink—beer and the one of using "Jiu Qu" to brew alcoholic drink—rice alcoholic drink

A book named 《Su Jing·Shuo Ming Pian》 of Zhou Dynasty recorded, "If rice alcoholic drink and beer are going to be made, Qu and Nie (malt) must be needed". From the corresponding relation of the words, it can be understood that the rice alcoholic drink is brewed by using Qu while beer is brewed by using Nie. Li Shizhen, a famous Chinese pharmaceutical scholar and doctor of Ming Dynasty held the same opinion. Song Yingxing of Ming Dynasty stated it even more briefly and directly, "Qu was used to brew alcoholic drinks and Nie was used to brew Li, a kind of beer in the ancient times. Later people disliked the light flavor of Li, then it gradually disappeared and its method of brewing died away in the meanwhile." Some people argue that the rice alcoholic drinks and beer were discussed and described respectively in a book entitled 《Bu Ci 》. Based on this evidence, I think that it is quite probable to brew the rice alcoholic and Li using two different techniques (《Study of Ying Xu Bu Ci — a chapter of Science and Technology》 by Wen Shaofeng, published by the Publishing House of Social Science Institute of Si chuan Province, 1983).
During West Han Dynasty , the production of beer didn't stop , beer was still a part of the alcoholic drinks. 《ShiJi ·Huo Zhi Lie Zhuan》(a historical Record book) recorded a tribute of a thousand "he" ( a unit of weight in ancient China) of Nie Qu and fermented soybean given by a defeated state to the winning state. Since Han Dynasty was defeated by Xiongnu state, Han state had to pay a tribute to Xiongnu state, which was recorded in 《ShiJi·Xiongnu Li Zhuan》, 《 Han Su》 (history records of Han Dynasty) recorded such a story that a gentleman named Mu Sheng was not good at drinking alcohol liquor, each time when he was invited to dinner, the host served him with a low alcoholic drink—Li. Later, he was left out and ill—treated and was never served with it. From the record of the story, it can be concluded that "Li", a kind of beer was a drink with low alcohol, suited for those who were not good at drinking.

Mr. Zhu Baoyong, a contemporary brewing expert stated that using sprouted cereals to make alcoholic Li in China occurred almost at the same time as using malt to brew beer in Babylon in New Stone Age. There is no clue found till now to prove whether there was some connection between them.(《The Change of Brewing Industry 》 by Zhu Baoyong). For this interesting and scientific — valued problem, it still needs time to obtain adequate proofs. The changes of sorts of alcoholic beverages and improvements of brewing techniques may reflect in one aspect the intercourse of different peoples. It should focus even far wider range both in history and geography to study the origin of brewing alcoholic drinks by using grain.

The second opinion considered that Li was also brewed by using Jiu Qu. It took a very short time to brew and was a kind of mixture of alcoholic liquid and dregs. The basic feature of Li was that it contained a high degree of sugar and a lower degree of alcohol, needing a very short time. "Li" was explained in this way in 《Shi Ming》 (Explanation of Names), "Li, a kind of beer, needs only one night to brew, its alcoholic flavor light." 《Explanation of Articles and Words》 explained it even simpler, "Li, a kind of alcoholic drink, needs only one night to brew.” Zheng Yuan, when giving notes to 《Zhou Li》( a book summarizing ceremonies of Zhou Dynasty) explained, "Li, a light — flavored alcoholic drink, was a mixture of alcoholic liquid and mash, equaling today's sweet alcoholic drink." Judging by the data collected, they all didn't give a distinctive definition that Li must be brewed by using Nie and there is a possibility that it was brewed by using Jiu Qu. For example, "Five Presentation Ceremonies of Alcoholic Drinks", mentioned in 《Zhou Li》 contained the presentation of alcoholic drink "Li" which was actually the alcoholic mash of the second fermentation stage. Zhou Yang of West Han Dynasty wrote in his 《Songs of Alcoholic Beverages》 that the clear and purified drink was alcoholic drink and the unpurified mixture was called alcoholic Li, they both were brewed by using wheat Qu together with rice. Although they were made from the same raw materials, their flavors were quite different, which gives a further indication that the alcoholic Li made in Han Dynasty was brewed by using Qu.
Modern experts stated some other opinions on the alcoholic Li and alcoholic drink, e.g. Mr. Fang Xingfang thought that Qu and Nie were mouldy and sprouted grains of cereal —Jiu Qu. In the ancient times, Qu and Nie were not classified , later they were divided into sprouted grains, Jiu Qu and Huang Qu. That is to say, since there existed no distinction between Qu and Nie, the alcoholic drink and the alcoholic Li were one thing in the ancient times. Some other experts, such as Mr. Yamasaki, thought that Qu and Nie were the different things from the start. But Qu was once used to be mass Qu, then it developed into Da Qu, and Xiao Qu etc.; Nie was the Powder state of Qu then developed into Huang Qu ( used in production of sauce and fermented soybean and Nü Qu used in production of the light- flavored distilled liquor.)
The beer produced in western countries contains about 4% of alcohol, and the rice alcoholic drink brewed in China possesses about 15~20% of alcohol . That explains why our rice alcoholic drinks substitute for the original beer. Proofs of Production of Beer During Ancient Ages in China.
(a)   Sprouted Grains of Shang Dynasty—Nie and Original Beers— Alcoholic Li
First of all, the two Chinese characters Nie ( sprouted grains) and Li (a kind of original beer) occurred frequently in a book《Bu Ci》 of Ying and Shang Dynasties, and the process of production of Nie and Li can be figured out by summarizing all the related items. From them it can be seen that the production of Li was almost the same as that of beer . 《Bu Ci》 first recorded various kinds of sprouted corn such as rice, Chinese sorghum and wheat etc., which shows the kinds of cereals used to sprout were abundant; secondly, it recorded how to make Li—to soak the sprouted grains in the water, then saccharificate and brew them alcoholic, at last to filter, 《Bu Ci》 also recorded the distinction between "Old Li" and "New Li". The New Li was the freshly brewed one and the Old Li was the long-time stored one. ( All the data mentioned are selected and summarized from 《Ying Xu Bu Ci—A Chapter of Science and Technology》).
(b)   Production of the Sprouted Grains and the Malt Syrup—Evidences of Original Beer Production
The production techniques of Nie and Malt Syrup had been recorded clearly and detailedly in ancient China, which indicates the techniques used then were fairly mature . Although the technique that Nie was used to brew the alcoholic Li hasn't been discovered in the ancient papers till now, it doesn't suggest that there were no such practical activities. It needs to go through four processes to brew barley into beer, that is sprouting, grinding, saccharification and fermentation. The first three techniques our ancestors had grasped, so there was no problem to ferment saccharificating Lao ( alcoholic mixture or mash ) to the alcoholic.
Nie's making way, in 《Shi Ming》, was briefly recorded, i.e. to soak the wheat several times till it sprouted, while 《Qi Ming Yao Shuo》 recorded it in details, "The technique of making Nie is to soak the wheat in a basin in the mid-August, pour the water out instantly, spread it under sunshine, soak it and pour the water out instantly once a day, When it grow rooted, spread it out two chun ( a unit of length ) in thickness on the mat , water it once a day until it sprouts, then stop watering, collect and dry it and don't let it amassed. If amassed, it can't be used to brew."《Qi Ming Yao Shou 》 not only recorded how to make wheat Nie, but also recorded how to make barley Nie. In the book, three stages how to make wheat Nie had been mentioned —the first stages was soaking it and changing water once a day; the second stage was watering it to sprout when it grew rooted, and spreading it on the mat in a required thickness and watering it once a day in order to keep wet; the third stage was drying to prohibit it from overgrowing, specially from getting amassed. The way to make the wheat Nie was exactly the same as that of making the sprouted wheat to brew the beer.
The latest time to begin using malt syrup was in the Spring and Autumn Warring States′ Period. There was a record that dates were used to make malt syrup which tasted sweet in a book named 《Li Ji Nie Ze》. It was till North Power of Wei Dynasty that the major use of Nie was making malt syrup. Making malt syrup was related to the saccharification of sprouted wheat, which was similar to the brewing of alcoholic Li with the sprouted wheat Nie. There was a detailed recorder of making white malt syrup in《Qi Ming Yao Shuo》, i.e. five sheng (a unit of weight) of dry Nie powder against about a hundred kgs of fine rice were mixed together, the rice should be polished around tens of times, then watered and cooked. After that, spread the cooked rice out and let the steam and heat go. Before it got cooled, you should mix it with Nie powder in a bas-in and placed it into a jar ·· ·, and covered it with a padded quilt to keep warm, In winter it should be covered with rice straws. It took a whole day in winter but a half day in summer to ferment, then took it out of the jar and cooked it bubbling, at the moment poured down water one che (a unit of measurement, equal to 0.33 m) over the alcoholic mash, slant the jar and pour out the juice to cook. " This selection described the saccharification process in details. The dry wheat Nie possessed saccharifying ensyme, which can be used as saccharifying agent to convert rice into sugar、It's process was exactly the same as the saccharification of sprouted wheat for beer added rice additive. It was key to keep warm. After the sugar mash was obtained, it could be cooked to concentrate and then to obtain malt syrup. That our China mastered the saccharification of sprouted wheat in the ancient age can at least indicate the possibility that Nie be used to brew alcoholic Li before 6~5 centuries B.C

(c)   Brewing of Alcoholic Drinks by Steeping Qu ,the Succession Technique of Brewing Alcoholic Li Using Nie.
There existed the possibility that Nie was used to brew alcoholic Li in ancient China based on the first usage of Steeping- - -Qu to brew alcoholic liquors.
It can be known according to the description mentioned above that there were two processes in brewing beer abroad in ancient times: one was to steep wheat (in order to make it sprout); the other was to saccharify the sprouted wheat. During the ancient ages in China , even though Qu was used to brew alcoholic drinks, steeping Qu was of the required process, it was even older than the way of mixing dry Qu into cooked rice after Tang and Song Dynasties. Steeping---Qu Brewing was rather popular during the North Wei Dynasty, that is, first to soak the Qu in water for days, then add it into rice to ferment. There appears a very noticeable problem that brewing probably inherited the traditional technique of steeping beer sprouted wheat, both stemming out of the same source. To use Nie to brew alcoholic Li in China was probably first to soak the Nie so as to let it ferment. Later Jiu Qu was invented, which was soaked in the same way. The original Jiu Qu had a weak saccharification, Jiu Qu itself might be the fermenting raw material; Later, Jiu Qu's saccharifying was improved, more rice could be added and the alcoholic percentage of brewing drinks was increased. So brewing of alcoholic drinks with Qu took the place of brewing of alcoholic Li with Nie. It can be believed that the latter technique used to play an important role in Chinese brewing industry in history and its time--span even surpasses that of the present brewing alcoholic drinks or spirits with Qu.

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