It’s no secret that beer and blue cheese go hand in hand – but a new study reveals how deep their roots run in Europe, where workers at a salt mine in Austria were gorging on both up to 2,700 years ago.
Scientists made the discovery by analysing samples of human excrement found at the heart of the Hallstatt mine in the Austrian Alps.
Frank Maixner, a microbiologist at the Eurac Research Institute in Bolzano, Italy, who was the lead author of the report, said he was surprised to learn salt miners more than two millennia ago were advanced enough to “use fermentation intentionally.”
“This is very sophisticated in my opinion,” Maixner said. “This is something I did not expect at that time.”
The finding was the earliest evidence to date of cheese ripening in Europe, according to researchers.
And while alcohol consumption is certainly well documented in older writings and archaeological evidence, the salt miners’ faeces contained the first molecular evidence of beer consumption on the continent at that time.
They talk about “enjoying” blue cheese which is clearly impossible. But more than that they talk about beer, which I think is unlikely. Ale I would have thought – non-hopped, d’ye see?