We’ve all had the experience. Open your beer fridge, and pull out the craft brew that feels just right for the moment. You remember the flavor, the unique combination of hops and malts, and your mouth starts to send encouraging signals to your brain. You hesitate the slightest moment. This is the only bottle of this beer I have left. It was tucked back in the corner. Did I take this to a barbecue and leave it out in the heat? How long has this been in here?? You panic, but you were never going to back down. Pop the cap, and ahhhh, that’s what I wanted. As you sit down, satisfied, to enjoy it, curiosity keeps poking at you. How much longer would the beer have been good? How old is too old for a beer?
Unfortunately, there’s no definite answer for that question, but we have a new entry to consider. Not long after dozens of bottles of champagne were brought up from a shipwreck outside Finland’s autonomous Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea, divers have discovered something a little more our taste…three bottles of dark beer! A small crack in the brown glass caused one of the bottles to break on the surface, so the divers let it bubble onto their fingers to observe and, of course, taste. A dark brown liquid, with mix of bitterness and sweetness is what one diver described. Upon transferring the rest of the contents of the broken bottle to a safe container, others sampled the drink and confirmed that it is, indeed, beer.
Scientists have dated the shipwreck between 1800 and 1830, possibly sailing to the Russian Imperial Court from Denmark, the contents gifts from France’s King Louis XVI. That would make these bottles, drumroll please…The oldest drinkable beer in the world! Now, please don’t set aside a bottle of your favorite craft beer with plans to drink it in 30 years. Light and heat, the two major factors in beer degradation, were essentially absent inside the deep shipwreck in such chilly waters. Fortunately for us, these conditions allowed the cultures inside the beer to survive. Not only may a few choice people be able to enjoy it, but brewers and scientists have hopes to work together to reverse engineer the recipe.
Would you taste a 200-year-old beer fresh from the sea floor?