Some insight provided by co-Director Scott Owen:
While we were with Dr. Patrick McGovern aka The Indiana Jones of Beer, in his office/laboratory at the Penn Museum, I noticed a comic book style piece of artwork someone had drawn of Dr. Pat and his good friend Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Brewery). It referenced probably one of the great pop culture touchstones of my youth, depicting the two stepping out of Marty McFly's DeLorean from Back to the Future. Dr. Pat is cast in this piece as Doc Brown, and Sam as Marty, complete with orange life preserver vest. In the moment, I thought it was a cool drawing and just a funny correlation to pop culture. I didn't think much more about it.
As we got into our several hours of interview with the amazing Dr. Pat he took out a box. This is when I started to get a little bit giddy, giddy like, is he going to show us some cursed relic that's going to bring ancient mummies back to life and we are going to be thrust into some real life Night at the Museum situation? Alas, it was not so, but something did happen, at least to me.
Out of the box Dr. Pat pulls out a small plastic baggy. The sample just looks like some brownish powdered schmootz. He begins to explain that this is the remnants of what they scientifically "scraped" out of an ancient cask found in a tomb in Turkey. I'm not sure why Dr. Pat would want me to hold the plastic baggy. It really is just holding a piece of plastic in your hand, it's not a relic or anything. But Dr. Pat with his big brain full of wisdom knew exactly what he was doing by letting me hold it. As I as held the plastic baggy I realized a kind of connection to that blob of brownish schmootz, not the bag itself but those who came before us. This is what the ancients drank! It had real resonance. It's not like holding an old relic and marveling at it's construction and beauty, it's something altogether different, at least it was for me. It's real, it's in many ways the reasons humans are still here. It is medicine and the life giving energy drink that kept our ancestors alive.
Now, it's a lot of arduous, difficult scientific steps to bring this ancient beverage to life again but here in my hand are the building blocks. It wasn't like being in a museum anymore. It's something about recreating these ancient recipes that we can actually taste and learn and enjoy. Since we don't have Doc's DeLorean this is the next best thing for me. That's as close to going back in history as I can think of. You are literally bringing something back to life resurrecting a real part of everyday life from thousands of years ago. It's astonishing and amazing and brought me to a point of understanding the absolute importance of ancient fermented beverages to humankind.
This is a little bit of the museum coming to life. You can buy Dogfish Head's Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu, Ta Henket, and other ancient beverages that they have resuscitated. Buy some today to experience a little bit of the past and support the work they do! I look forward to the next ancient fermented beverage Dr. Pat and Sam unearth together. I fully understand why the little cartoon caricature in Dr. Pat's office of Back to the Future is prominently displayed in the office/laboratory. I get it Dr. Pat. I get it. As Doc Brown says to Marty McFly, "Roads? Where we going we don’t need roads." Keep pushing deeper into the past Dr. Pat we all benefit from your amazing and important work!