Yeast From An 1886 Shipwreck Is Used To Create A New Brew

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Jamie Adams has created a new beer derived from yeast obtained from a bottle of beer that has been laying on the ocean floor for 131 years. Fans of beer and ale were able to taste the replica beer at a craft beer festival last weekend.

Deep Ascent ale from Saint James Brewery has been developed using yeast which was developed from a bottle of beer obtained from a shipwreck that Adams liked to explore, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful shipwreck to dive,” says Adams.

“I came up with the idea to make some beer if we came up with some intact bottles.”

The shipwreck in question is the SS Oregon, which was a luxury liner that was traveling from Liverpool to New York. During the journey, the liner “collided with a schooner and sank off Fire Island in 1886.” Currently, the vessel lies 135 feet underwater in a location so notorious for shipwrecks that it is known as Wreck Valley.

Adams decided to start diving for unopened beer bottles in 2015. However, it took until 2017 to find what he was looking for. Having to dig through 15 feet of sand and a further six feet into the ship, the divers finally found half a dozen bottles, upside down and with their corks still intact. Later, another 20 bottles were located.

With the help of a microbiologist friend, Adams set about developing new yeast from his samples. He now believes that the brew he created is descended from the same yeast used by Bass Brewers to create their King’s ale, which is no longer in production.

Adams describes his new brew as having a “slightly fruity taste with a hoppy finish.”

“[It is a] replication of what would have been served on that ship in 1886. We want people to have a small taste of what life was like as a passenger on this ship.”

For many, though, the taste of the beer is secondary to the tale it tells.

Calvin MacDowell, who sampled the new shipwreck ale at the New York Craft Brewers Festival in Albany, revealed that he was excited to taste a beer which was developed from such an old yeast.

“I spoke to the brewer and he said he was the one who did the dive,” MacDowell said. “Knowing that it’s from such a long time ago and getting a taste of history, it’s exciting.”

This isn’t the first time an alcoholic beverage has been developed using yeast from old shipwrecks. As AP points out, in 1991, a British brewer used yeast salvaged from a barge which sank in 1825 in the English Channel. He used this culture to create Original Flag Porter. In addition, Australian brewer James Squire also created The Wreck-Preservation ale using “yeast from the merchant ship Sydney Cove, which ran aground in Tasmania in 1797.” The Wreck-Preservation ale was released last summer.

As well as newly-produced beverages using shipwreck yeast, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, actual beverages from a sunken ship were consumed in 2015. The alcoholic beverages were believed to have been 170-years-old. According to the experts, the wine sampled still tasted good, but the beer was described as tasting incredibly sour, with an aroma that included scents of “autolyzed yeast, dimethyl sulfide, Bakelite, burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, and goat, with phenolic and sulfury notes.”