Shipwrecked Beer From 1840 Smells Like ... Goat

Seawater had seeped into the bottles, but scientists analyzed its chemistry
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2015 8:10 AM CST
What the scientists sampled didn't exactly look like this.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

(Newser) – They got a whiff of ... goat. It's not exactly the aroma you want from your beer, but it's what scientists say they detected after analyzing two bottles of beer that had been shipwrecked for what's believed to be 170 years at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Beer isn't known for aging well, and these bottles, found off the coast of Finland in 2010, suffered less-than-ideal conditions: Actual seawater had entered in through the corks. But that didn't stop the intrepid scientists from inserting needles into those corks to remove some of the contents and perform chemical analyses on what they describe as a "bright golden yellow" liquid "with little haze" it. They even braved tiny sips of the liquid, reports Popular Science.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the scientists say the beer smelled of "autolyzed yeast, dimethyl sulfide, Bakelite, burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, and goat, with phenolic and sulfury notes." Both beers contained live and dead bacteria, which likely caused the "unpleasant organoleptic features." As for the taste, Popular Science notes the researchers identified flavor chemicals not unlike those found in today's beers. And because the beer was diluted by as much as 30% with seawater, the scientists surmise that the alcohol content was higher than what it measured at: 2.8% and 3.2% ABV. While the ship's name and destination remain unknown, divers did find additional precious cargo at the site 165 feet below sea level: more than 150 bottles of champagne. Here's how the champagne tasted.

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