Bottles of 170 year old beer and champagne were preserved underwater in a sunken ship discovered off the coast of Finland. Scientists were able to take a test, and now they have published a forensic chemical analysis of the ancient beer in order to discover what it tasted like in comparison to modern beer.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, beer foam has never been a desired trait on a tall pint glass, but for those who complain at the bartenders, there’s now a study which claims the beer foam plays a very vital role.
Divers discovered the wrecked schooner just south of Aaland, an archipelago of some 6,500 small islands in the Baltic Sea that’s controlled by Finland. Aboard the shipwreck, they found 168 bottles of champagne and also a good number of ancient beer bottles. The ship was dated to the first half of the 19th century, making the 170 year old beer the oldest alcoholic beverages available on the planet.
The crew discovered the champagne was actually quite nice when the changing pressure caused a cork to burst from of the bottles. According to io9, they gave the ancient wine to an expert named Ella Grussner Cromwell-Morgan, who gave this review.
“Despite the fact that it was so amazingly old, there was a freshness to the wine. It wasn’t debilitated in any way. Rather, it had a clear acidity which reinforced the sweetness. Finally, a very clear taste of having been stored in oak casks.”
It’s claimed that storing wine at the bottom of the sea is actually a better environment than the best wine cellar. The ancient wine was described as being sweeter than modern wine, but on the other hand, the ancient beer was about as sour as can be. To give you an idea, this is how the chemists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland described the smell of the sour beer.
“Bubbles of gas, presumably CO2, formed during sampling, producing a light foam. Both beers were bright golden yellow, with little haze. Both beers smelt of autolyzed yeast, dimethyl sulfide, Bakelite, burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, and goat, with phenolic and sulfury notes.”
Burnt rubber? Goat? The dauntless scientists still committed to taking a swig, and suggested that perhaps the seawater had injected some salt into the mix. Using modern chemistry, they were able to separate out the individual compounds to discover what the old beer bottles originally contained. Apparently, rose, sweet apples, and green tea-flavored beer was all the vogue almost 200 years ago, but they also noted one large difference from modern beer.
Even before they begin to smell of goat, the ancient beers would have all been sour beer in comparison to modern tastes. This is because brewers only learned how to keep acid-producing bacteria out of the beer in the second half of the 19th century. This meant even the fruity flavored beers discovered in the shipwreck were still all sour beers.
[Photo via Gizmodo]