My Comments: Those who know me know my history of digging in dumps and old privys looking for old bottles. The beer might be great, but I’m really interested in the bottles! Anyway, I have family members who might really want to explore this. Enjoy!
by Ariel Bogle on Mashable, June 16, 2016
Would you drink beer resurrected from the remnants of a 220-year-old bottle? Thanks to some enterprising Australian scientists, you may have the chance to find out.
In 1797, a small merchant vessel went down off the coast of Tasmania, Australia, in the treacherous Bass Strait. Known as the Sydney Cove shipwreck, the ship was travelling from Calcutta, now Kolkata, India, to Port Jackson, Australia, with a cargo of food, textiles and livestock.
It also had plenty of beer on board. Some of the bottles survived for centuries at the bottom of the sea until they were retrieved in the early 1990s, according to a statement from the Queen Victoria Museum in Tasmania. David Thurrowgood, a conservator at the museum, which also hosts an exhibit about the wreck, decided he would find out if the remains of one salvaged bottle could be turned into a fresh brew.
Thurrowgood, along with a number of scientists, now believe they have taken live yeast from a surviving beer bottle and turned it into a brand new batch.
“Possibly the wreck has now also given us the world’s only known pre-industrial revolution brewing yeast,” he said in the statement.
Anthony Borneman, principal research scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute, became involved with the project after Thurrowgood reached out with his idea to look in the bottles for living organisms.
“When we started, we were pretty skeptical we’d be able to grow anything live,” he told Mashable Australia.
They took samples from a number of bottles and placed them in nutrient broth to see if anything would grow. Two samples did, and it turned out they came from the one bottle of beer that had been pulled intact from the Sydney Cove wreck. There were other whole bottles, but they were found to contain wine and other liquids.
Unfortunately, the team can’t say with complete certainty the yeast came directly from the old beer and is not instead an unusual contaminant effect. After being taken from the wreck, the bottle was decanted into two different samples for fear the cork would deteriorate.
Nevertheless, it’s the answer that would make the most sense. “The yeast that we pulled out, and there were a few different species, are all involved with beer brewing,” he explained. “They all fall on the family tree with beer yeast … Our two conflicting ideas are that they really are from the beer, or that we had a very rare, specific containment effect.”
According to Borneman, the resulting beer that was made — lager and ale — tasted pretty good despite the spectacularly old age of the yeast.
“These are all done at home brew level — it can be pretty hit and miss — but these home brews were very clear,” he added. “If I was trying to craft beer at a pub, I’d be very happy with it.”
To his knowledge, if the yeast is in fact from the original beer, it would make their yeast the oldest living that has been used in a successful brew. In May, the Carlsberg Research Laboratory announced it had made a lager from yeast found in a bottle that had survived 133 years in its cellar.
The team now hope to raise funds to go back down to the Sydney Cove wreck and retrieve any remaining bottles and artefacts. If they find any, their contents will be removed in a clean room to prove once and for all whether the yeast is genuine.
Borneman also has plans to make beer from bottles found in other wrecks around Australia. Forget craft beer — you’ll now need shipwreck beer for something truly authentic.