Scientists have opened two bottles of 170-year-old beer that was recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland. The reason was to research the ingredients of the beer and make a profile of 19th century beers. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
The bottles of beer were recovered from the shipwreck and they have stayed buried 165 feet (50 meters) under the sea for a whopping 170 years. During this time, some saltwater did seep into the bottles and changed their taste and texture, but even so, scientists were able to analyze them and reveal the fact that in their heyday they tasted pretty much like modern beers.
The five bottles of 170-year-old beer were discovered in the Baltic Sea inside the wreckage of a boat that sank off the coast of the Aland Island in Finland in the 1840s. Along with the five bottles of beer, divers also found 150 bottles of champagne.
Unfortunately one bottle of beer didn’t make the trip back to the mainland as it cracked and started foaming. It was revealed that some of the divers mustered up the courage to taste the 170-year-old beer and they said it tasted like beer.
Lead researcher and scientists at the Technical Research Center of Finland, John Londesborough opened two of the remaining 170-year-old beer bottles and revealed that their smell wasn’t too appealing. Apparently, the beer smelled by yeast extract, cabbage, Bakeline, cheese, sulfur, goat and burnt rubber. The reason it smelled this awful was bacteria that seeped inside the bottles and started growing and overpowering the malt, hop and fruity profiles the beers had.
The scientists also revealed that the beers were bright golden yellow, with very little haze, and that they had been diluted by seawater by 30%. They concluded that the beers were stronger than their current alcohol levels of 3.2%.
Indeed, the beers had not been stored in ideal conditions, so how they must have tasted could not be determined, the researchers said. But following chemical analysis, they did managed to find various flavor compounds that are very similar to those of modern beers. In conclusion, beer made in the 1800s did not taste as different as the beer made today.
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