Preservation Ale made from 200-year-old yeast

  • The yeast was also used to bake bread. Credit: David Thurrowgood
  • Two years ago a chemist and conservator from the Queen Victoria Museum, David Thurrowgood, rediscovered an unopened bottle of the 200-year-old beer in the museum's storage area. Credit: David Thurrowgood
Date:15 November 2016 Tags:, ,

The beer, called Preservation Ale, could be a window into the diet and health of people living 200 years ago.

By Avery Thompson

If you’ve ever wondered what beer from the 18th century tasted like, well now’s your chance to find out.

A group of researchers have developed a new beer, called Preservation Ale, with yeast recovered from the world’s oldest known bottle of beer. The bottle was recovered from the shipwreck of the Sydney Cove, which sank in 1797.

The Sydney Cove was sailing from Calcutta when it was wrecked on Preservation Island off the coast of Tasmania. The wreck was discovered in 1977, and was explored over the next few decades. About 20 years ago, divers found 26 unopened bottles of beer in the ship’s hold.

Researchers collected yeast samples from one of the bottles and cultivated it. They then used that yeast to brew a batch of beer.

Genetic tests show that the yeast is a close relative of the yeast used in Trappist Ale. The researchers say that the Preservation Ale has a sweet, almost cider-like taste to it that matches historical descriptions.

From a scientific standpoint, this is a rare opportunity to study microorganisms from generations ago, and this beer could tell us a great deal about the diet and health of people who lived during the 18th century. The researchers are planning to continue to study the microorganisms found inside the beer bottles, as well as bottles of wine, brandy, and gin that were also recovered.

They’re also in talks with several commercial breweries, so you might be able to pick up a bottle of Preservation Ale at your local store soon.

 

This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA. Via Live Science.