Caesar’s Cervesia

This presentation explores the plausibility of beer in the Roman military during Julius Caesar’s campaigns into Gaul and Britain from 58-51 BCE. Though the absence of beer in Caesar’s commentaries has led some to believe that Caesar’s men did not consume beer, Julius Caesar’s reliance on auxiliary forces to advance in the North ensured that cultures known for producing beer influenced legionary forces reliant on local resources to survive. In order to maintain loyalty from his auxiliary troops and to keep his legions sufficiently fueled, beer must have played a role in Caesar’s success. Archaeological evidence for beer production in Germanic, Gallic, and British territories are also be examined. Following a presentation of experimental archaeology and efforts to recreate the beer of Caesar’s troops, possible beer styles, flavor profiles, and recipes for “Caesar’s Cervesia” will be presented.

Learning Objectives

  • Discover the need for beer to fuel Caesar’s army
  • Understand why other beverages were not plausible forms of hydration
  • Examine how beer was made in Gaul and Britain in the first century BCE
  • Learn what Roman primary sources say about beer before and after Caesar
  • Explore efforts to recreate the beer of Caesar’s troops via experimental archaeology

About the Speaker

Travis Rupp is a 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. Since 2010 he has been teaching 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 nine 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 owner of The Beer Archaeologist, a company dedicated to research and experimental archaeology of historic beer. 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 second century CE, beer production at Mt. Vernon and Monticello, and the survival of the Belgian brewing tradition during World War I.

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