VTT examined the first bottle of 170-year-old beer

June 27, 2011

Finnish research center VTT has examined one of five bottles of beer salvaged last summer by divers from the wreck of a ship that sank an estimated 170 years ago in the Aland Islands.

The examination yielded a wealth of detail about the beer, even indications of how it was brewed. The research will continue by examining another bottle.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland was commissioned by the Government of Aland to study the composition of the beer and identify the type of yeast used to brew it. The aim of this project was to study what early 19th-century beer was like and whether its production process could be reverse-engineered and the beer replicated.

The study involved an analysis of the physico-chemical properties of the beer and microbiological and DNA analyses of the beer, bottle and . In particular, the aim was to isolate any living found.

The bottle contained a liquid that was a beautiful pale golden colour, identified as beer because of the presence of malt sugars, aromatic compounds and hops typical of the beverage.

The beer in the bottle examined has not stood the test of time well, and it was contaminated by salt from .

Dead were discovered in the beer, indicating fermentation that took place long ago. Live lactic acid bacteria were found in the beer. Especially in earlier times, were often present in beer fermentation alongside brewing yeast.

It would appear that the contents of the bottle examined by VTT were in a worse condition than those of the bottle that broke during the course of the dive.

The examination will continue with the opening of a second bottle retrieved from the wreck. This may yield new findings. The goal remains the discovery of living yeast cells.

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not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
According to a CNN article after the beer was found:

the cargo was aboard a ship believed to be heading from Copenhagen, Denmark, to St Petersburg, Russia. It could have possibly been sent by France's King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court.

This means the beer might be the Russian Imperial Stout style. I've always heard that the English invented this style, so I don't know what to think about a French source. Aside from barleywines and some belgian styles, this might be the most long lasting beer style. It's possible that an intact sample is good tasting and has a chance at being deliciously unique.

I want that yeast!!!! :D
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011

This means the beer might be the Russian Imperial Stout style.

Color me ignorant, but why would Russians want to import Russian style beer? That would be like the Japanese importing sake from North America.
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
Asia imports plenty of American ginseng, so why not?
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011

This means the beer might be the Russian Imperial Stout style.

Color me ignorant, but why would Russians want to import Russian style beer? That would be like the Japanese importing sake from North America.

Ignoramus!!! haha j/k They didn't come up with the style, the British did. Apparently, the Ruskies weren't very good at making beer (still aren't imo), so they imported most of it from England. As time went on, they learned that the hoppier the beer, the longer it lasted, and the better it tasted by the time it got to Russia. They increase the malt content to balance out the high hop content / bitterness. Thus, we call a "very big" stout with hops to balance, a RIS.

(This is based on stories I've heard. I'm sure there is a more accurate historical reference somewhere.)
3 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2011
The sound of sea shanties, dancing and the clinking of glasses come from the lab was a pure coincidence according to a bloodshot researcher early this morning ~ "and if anyone asks, I just happen to have a 24 hour virus" he added...

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