By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 07, 2017
Credit: © Stanford/ YouTube

College students pay good money to go to school. And wouldn’t it would be nice if they got something for all that cash besides just a boring education. As it turns out, an archeology class at Stanford University comes with a free beer. Sure, the recipe behind it is about 5,000 years old, and the brew isn’t going to top any charts on Untappd, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

According to Stanford News, students got to toast the end of their Archaeology of Food: Production, Consumption and Ritual course with homemade beers intended to replicate the way brews were whipped up in ancient times. One project in particular was meant to mimic a 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe that was only recently uncovered last year. Li Liu, the professor of the course, was also one of the researchers behind that discovery, so having her students recreate the ancient brew not only brings that research to life, but adds to it as well. “The beer that students made and analyzed will be incorporated into our final research findings,” said Jiajing Wang, a doctoral candidate who was a co-author on the Chinese beer study. “In that way, the class gives students an opportunity to not only experience what the daily work of some archaeologists looks like but also contribute to our ongoing research.”

The resulting 5,000-year-old-inspired beers were described as having “sort of a sour taste,” which makes sense since it doesn’t appear as if the students added any specific cultured yeast to the brews, meaning the resulting fermentations were essentially “wild.” Still, one student, Madeleine Ota, said her beer, made with red wheat, smelled pleasantly fruity and had a cider-like citrus taste – so maybe there’s hope of revitalizing this ancient recipe after all.

“Food plays such an important role in who we are and how we’ve developed as a species,” Ota was quoted as saying. “We can use the information that we gain in these experiments to apply to the archaeological record from thousands of years ago and ask questions about what these processes reflect and what we can say about alcohol fermentation and production.” Plus you’ve learned to make hooch in a pinch. You never know when that could come in handy: Maybe you get stuck on a desert island, maybe Prohibition gets reinstated, maybe you go to jail? That’s a good life skill!