Travis Rupp, University of Colorado Boulder
Brewing Beer in Roman Britain
This lecture will explore the production and consumption of beer in Roman occupied Britain from the invasions of Julius Caesar through the end of Roman rule in the 5th century. Beer was the primary drink of early peoples and nations in Britain before Roman arrival. Via regular contact with other major empires and nations, beer styles and brewing methodologies expanded throughout Northern Europe as well. For example, Celtic contact with Britain significantly influenced how they produced beer. Though beer from these regions was often scoffed at and deemed inferior to wine, the barbarians of the north were not the only people consuming it. Archaeological and literary evidence supports the mass production of beer for Rome’s legions serving on Hadrian’s Wall. This lecture will survey brewing at Vindolanda, Housesteads and many other forts from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. Large-scale brewing coincided with the movement of the Roman legions, and new styles and flavors were created as Antoninus Pius pushed further north through the Midlands into Scotland. The construction of his wall promoted more brewing facilities, and the production of beer created a symbiotic relationship between the native brewers and the Roman consumers. These observations are witnessed in other regions of Roman provincial activity; an exploration of Roman castra and brewing facilities from Germanic territories in the late 2nd century CE will act as a comparative case study. This lecture will also present how beer was produced, what ingredients were used, how the beer likely tasted and what (if any) traditions from the past are alive and well in British beer today.
Travis Rupp is full-time lecturer in classics, art history, history, anthropology and mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder where he has taught for 13 years. He teaches all things Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek and Roman. His scholarly expertise focus on ancient food and alcohol production, ancient sport and spectacle, and Pompeii and the cities of Vesuvius. He also worked at Avery Brewing Company for 9 years serving as the wood cellar and research and development manager. He holds the title of beer archaeologist and founded Avery’s Ales of Antiquity Series, which ran from 2016-2020. He serves on the National Advisory Board for the Chicago Brewseum, and he is the recent founder of The Beer Archaeologist LLC. As a result of his careers and passions, Travis is writing books on the beginnings of beer in the Roman military, brewing in the early monastic tradition and beer production in Revolutionary America. Recently his travels and research abroad have focused on monastic brewing in Italy from AD 400-900, brewing in Roman Britain during the 2nd century CE and beer production at Mt. Vernon and Monticello.