Northern Monk / Dr Samuel Gartland - Mhor - 5.8% Spelt & Honey IPA -440ml Can

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Northern Monk and a historian at the University of Leeds have collaborated to brew Mhór,  a beer inspired by a 5,000-year-old recipe made in Northern England.

Working with Dr Samuel Gartland, from the University’s School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies, the brewery, based in Leeds, has produced a beer made using traditional ingredients of meadowsweet, spelt, and honey, combined with modern hops.

Although few records of ancient beer drinking remain, Dr Gartland’s research analysed tablets written by Roman soldiers near Hadrian’s Wall, demanding beer. An ancient inscription on display at the University of Leeds helped Dr Gartland to find that peers of those soldiers would have been posted in Yorkshire and drinking beer at the time.

“Beer has been brewed for thousands of years, right here in the North of England,” said Russell Bisset, co-founder and chief executive of Northern Monk.

“Beer and brewing’s connection with the North, and Yorkshire, is deep rooted and part of our shared history. When we began looking into bringing back an historic brew, initially for a beer festival, we spoke to Dr Gartland, who helped us delve into the beers and brewing methods of our ancestors.

“Taking inspiration from academic research, and the evidence of vessels that contained cereal, honey, and meadowsweet from the early bronze age, found in Scotland, we brewed a pilot beer. It let us try and get as close to those 5,000 years of brewing history as possible, and it kept it relatively close to home.”

He added: “Roll on to now, and we’re excited to release Mhór, a beer 5,000 years in the making. We kept the base pale as it seems likely early brewers would be sun-drying their malt, or using fresh undried malt rather than any form of direct heating, smoking or kilning.

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“Initially using dried meadowsweet flowers instead of hops for flavour and stability, which add a creamy, honey-like aroma and flavour, along with a root beer-like finish, with honey added towards the end of the ferment.

“We’ve then combined this ancient-style brew with hops, El Dorado Cryo, Centennial, and Citra, to give a modern twist. This is a modern take on an authentic ancient ale, a barbarian’s beverage. Northern Monk’s very first slogan was ‘5,000 years of history, re-inspired’. Now, truly, five millennia of beer has been given a modern update.”

Dr Gartland, associate professor in Ancient History and Culture, added: “From the Mediterranean to Britain, beer was as popular in the ancient world as it is today. The local peoples of these islands, and even those posted right here in Yorkshire with the Roman army, loved a beer, and this new drink therefore has the special quality of bringing us closer to those that lived in the ancient landscapes of Britain.

“Having an enthusiastic and creative partner like Northern Monk has made this process of recapturing an ancient beer possible. And thanks to the hard work and careful research that lies behind Mhór, each time we take a sip we can sit at the bar next to people from thousands of years ago and drink together — that rootedness of experience and connection across thousands of years makes this a truly magical project.”

The beer is the seventh and final beer released as part of the brewery’s Evolution of Tradition series, which is part of Northern Monk’s Patrons Projects, which sees the brewery collaborate with creatives, artists, designers, and illustrators. Previous beers in the Evolution of Tradition series have included traditional Belgian pale ales and English IPAs.