Researchers from Finland have found a bottle of beer from a shipwreck in the 1840s. The chemical analysis of the beer would allow them with the help of the master brewer to re-create a beer that tastes much the same.
A few bottles of beer were found in an old shipwreck in the archipelago of Åland in Finland during the summer of 2010. Researchers have now managed to isolate four different species of live lactic acid bacteria from the beer.
The 2010 discovery of the ship, believed to have sunk in the 1840s, also included the world's oldest champagne considered drinkable which has since been auctioned off.
According to the researchers, the beer did not stand the test of time particularly well, but retained a pale golden colour and could originally have had hints of rose, almond and cloves.
The pale golden colour indicates that the beers were made from unroasted malt. The burned flavour suggests that heating at the mashing stage was not under control. It is possible, though, that a smoky flavour in beer was appreciated at the time.
The beers were probably made from grain – barley or wheat or a combination of the two. Hops, of a variety typical of a couple of centuries ago, had been added before boiling the wort.
According to Terhi Kinnunen of Reuters, Annika Wilhelmson from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland said that chemical analysis of the beer, which was recovered from a sunken ship near Aland islands in the Baltic Sea, has shown that it would be possible to make an alcoholic beverage similar to the original with the help of a master brewer.
In 1999, some beer bottles from Nicomedia -another Baltic wreck sunk during WW1 - were recovered. The yeast in the bottles was still alive after all these years. It was re-cultivated by Slottskällans bryggeri, a Swedish brewery, in 2000 and sold as the "Wreck Beer".
Alas, this beer is no longer brewed.