"Before brew pubs, before wineries, before human ancestors had climbed out of the trees and learned how to walk, there was booze.

"And it didn't take long for our ancestors to learn it was good.

"Primates of all types seem to have an unrelenting attraction to fermented beverages, which they find in nature in the form of degrading fruit, said Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

"'It's a natural process,' McGovern said. 'If you have fruit or honey, and if you dilute it down, there's yeast that will ferment it. All animals appear to be attracted to that. We call it the drunken monkey hypothesis.'

"McGovern recently gave a public lecture about man's historic love of fermented beverages in Santa Fe.

"Modern humans have turned that love into an art form, but looking back at the history of fermentation can yield some lost and surprisingly good concoctions, McGovern said.

"'We've actually re-created the oldest known alcoholic beverage,' at least the one that was intentionally made, McGovern said. 'It's a 9,000-year-old Chinese drink we call Jiahu.'

"That drink is a combination of hawthorn fruit, grapes, honey and rice, or a mix of some or all of those, that scientists found traces of in old clay pots, he said."

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