More than once in THE DEADLIEST HATE, Miriam mentions henket, a cheap Egyptian beer made from barley and emmer wheat. On one occasion, she recognizes its smell when, looking for a courier to take a letter to Caesarea, she enters the public room of The Pegasus, a waterfront inn catering to sailors and slaves:
The public room was virtually empty save for the ferocious flies. Strewn about the earthen floor and lit by a ring of dying oil lamps suspended from the stained ceiling were wooden tables and benches, some overturned presumably in the diners’ haste to leave, understandable given the smells that confronted me. I figured they must have supped last night on rotten fish and rancid mutton washed down with stale henket.
On another occasion, the bearers carrying Miriam’s litter had to skirt around lacey pools of spilled henket along with the usual eddies of dust and piles of excrement.
The reborn version first distributed in in 2011, Ta Henket is brewed with the same blend of grains as the ancients and is flavored with chamomile, the fruit of the doum palm, a tree native to the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa, and Middle Eastern herbs. To ferment this earthy ancient ale, the brewers traveled to Cairo, set out baited petri dishes, and captured a native Egyptian yeast strain to ferment the grain.
Praised for its good retention with sporadic streaks of soapy lacing left behind, it has a clear, dark golden-orange color with apricot edges and a two-finger frothy, pillowy-white head that quickly settles into a thick, lasting ring.
I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, of course, but if you serve it with feta cheese and a copy of THE DEADLIEST HATE, you’ll be right there with Miriam in first century CE Alexandria. Just click here.