This Might Be the World's Oldest Beer

Researchers say they made it from 220-year-old yeast
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2016 11:34 AM CDT
This Might Be the World's Oldest Beer
Two bottles of Preservation Ale, brewed from what is believed to be 220-year-old yeast.   (Queen Victoria Museum)

One sip of Preservation Ale and you'll be transported to a time long past—kind of. Researchers at an Australian museum have brewed what might be the "world's oldest beer," using yeast salvaged from a bottle that spent nearly two centuries on the seafloor, they say in a press release. The bottle came from the Sydney Cove, which sank off the Australian mainland in 1790 and was salvaged in the 1990s, reports CTV News. Samples of the beer were decanted at the time of the salvaging, and they sat mostly forgotten until David Thurrowgood began working at Tasmania's Queen Victoria Museum a year-and-a-half ago. He and his team say they were able to isolate live yeast in the old beer, one they say is genetically distinct from more modern yeast species.

"I thought we might be able to culture that yeast and recreate beer that hasn't been on the planet for 220 years," he tells the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The result, brewed in accordance with an 18th-century recipe, is Preservation Ale. The discovery isn't a slam dunk: Some scientists are skeptical that yeast could live that long and suggest it might have been contaminated, perhaps in the last 20 years or so after the bottle was decanted. Researchers hope to disprove the naysayers by retrieving more bottles from the wreck and repeating the results. So how does the new-old beer taste? It has a "distinctly light and fresh flavor," say the researchers. "I f I was trying to craft beer at a pub, I'd be very happy with it," one tells Mashable. (Elsewhere, the "Everest of shipwrecks" is in bad shape.)

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