In the dim and distant past, perhaps 3500 years ago, the island of Ireland rang to the cheerful sound of beakers clinking together and the glugging chugging of gallons of beer made in some 4,500 “fulacht fiadhs” (pits or recesses), which date from 1,500 BC and are dotted across the island.

These “fulacht fiadhs” are horseshoe-shaped mounds surrounding an indentation which have puzzled archaeologists and others since they were first identified in the 17th century. Initially it was thought that the pits were associated with food preparation, but the absence of animal remains rather put the kybosh on this and so other explanations have been sought.

The Moore Group, whose website is here, have now come up with an explanation which will cheer many whose prejudices and preconceptions of the Irish as genial madmen perpetually out of the game on poteen (I once had a fortnight’s wildfowling on the coast of Co. Galway: my liver still quails at the memory) will thus be fortified. For these strange formations are now thought to be the ancients’ forerunner of the Guiness Group, brewing pits to ease the soul after a hard day’s elk hunting.

By all accounts as much as 300 litres of barley-based brew might have been possible in some of these private breweries, which for a small family group of twenty wild and wooly early Irishmen would have made for a party of major headache proportions.

It also rather prompts the thought that this is unlikely to have been confined to the island of Ireland but may well have been the norm here in England as well.

No wonder we have this tradition, now refined and brought to you by Gordon Brown’s 24 hour drinking policy, of getting totally blotto at the drop of the hat.

The material on the Moore Group site will repay a read as the whole topic is one which will cheer all but the most dreary teetotaler.

The verdict on the experimental brew which has been essayed?

The cloudy, yellowish brew with no discernible head was dangerously drinkable with a yeasty taste reminiscent of weiss beer.

With a kick like an Irish Lock Forward, no doubt.

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