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Egyptian alchemist’s recipe brings ancient beer to life in Winnipeg

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An idea that began when a classicist went to a brewery to sip beers and ponder the history of hops has brought to life an ancient ale.

It took hours of translating, milling and baking, but ale experimenters in Winnipeg have finally sipped a beer created from a fourth-century Egyptian alchemist’s recipe.

“If you expect this to taste like a modern beer, you are not going to find that,” said Matt Gibbs, chair of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Classics.

“This beer is very, very sour. It’s good. It’s much better than I thought it was when we first did it, I will say that much, but it’s different.”

Gibbs got the idea while sitting at a bar talking about old beers with a pair of brewmasters.

The original recipe was found in the book, The Barbarian’s Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe, by Max Nelson at the University of Windsor. It was chosen because Gibbs figured he could stay close to the original process and, unlike some of the other recipes, the ingredients were available and legal.

Beer made an old-fashioned way is shown at Barn Hammer Brewing Company in Winnipeg on Tuesday. (David Lipnowski/Canadian Press)

Gibbs received permission to translate the recipe out of ancient Greek and then got to work with brewers Tyler Birch and Brian Westcott, co-owners of Barn Hammer Brewing Co. in Winnipeg.

First, they made a sourdough bread from water and barley flour milled by hand. It took 18 hours to bake the loaves at a heat low enough that the enzymes essential for beer-making stayed alive.

The loaves were then submerged in a fermenter at Barn Hammer.

The only major differences from the original recipe was that a stainless steel fermenter was used and the barley wasn’t malted on a roof in the sun.

Weeks went by and the experiment slowly turned from a murky mix to a pristine pint.

“After tasting the bread they made, I thought we were going to have something really disgusting, but it turned out really well,” Birch said.

“I’m actually blown away by how good it is. It’s actually very drinkable.”

The simple taste of that makes it quite clear how much the palate has changed over 2,000 years.– Matt Gibbs

It’s not what most people would consider a beer and tastes more like a sour cider with hints of raisin or apple. The drink is flat because there was no carbonation more than 1,000 years ago. The brewers figure the alcohol content is about three per cent, similar to modern light beer.

The brew is not for sale — yet — but they are open to marketing an ancient batch in the future.

The ale is the beginning of research into how it and other beers were consumed by ancient societies. The initial batch has demonstrated how much brews have changed as technology around beer-making developed, Gibbs said.

“There were things we learned in terms of taste and technology and in processing, but I think the most important one was taste,” he said.

“The simple taste of that makes it quite clear how much the palate has changed over 2,000 years.”

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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