Beer for Ninkasi

a statue of the Sumerian goddess Ninkasi

This is as I have it in my archives.  I am embarrassed how little information I have on how I got the article behind the link, or where.  If you recognize it, please let me know so I can give credit or request permission if necessary.  It’s pretty fascinating!  Ninkasi was a Sumerian goddess of beer and fermented beverages.  Her Hymn is the oldest known beer recipe.  Needless to say, someone had to try it…and as a homebrewer, I feel obliged to share a copy of the Hymn to Ninkasi.

Brewing an Ancient Beer

The Hymn to Ninkasi, inscribed on a nineteenth-century B.C. tablet, contains a recipe for Sumerian beer.

Translation by Miguel Civil
Borne of the flowing water (…)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Borne of the flowing water (…)
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you,
Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you
Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake,
Ninkasi, Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.
You are the one who handles the dough,
[and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, You are the one who handles
the dough, [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey.
You are the one who bakes the bappir
in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes
the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
You are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt
set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates.
You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.
Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks
the malt in a jar
The waves rise, the waves fall.
You are the one who spreads the cooked
mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads
the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes.
You are the one who holds with both hands
the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey and wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (…)
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
The filtering vat, which makes
a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat,
which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on [top of]
a large collector vat.
When you pour out the filtered beer
of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the
filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of
Tigris and Euphrates.

The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University,  Scholarly Versions at their Home Page : http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/#

 

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