The World’s Oldest Beer Found Off the Coast of the Åland Islands

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During the salvage of the world’s oldest champagne on a shipwreck off the cost of Åland the divers made an additional discovery. They uncover what is believed to be the world’s oldest beer. The press release in full:

The world’s oldest preserved beer has been found on the Åland Islands. It was during the recovery of what is believed to be the world’s oldest champagne that several beer bottles were discovered. As a result of the findings the Government of Åland is probably now in possession of both the world’s oldest champagne as well as the world’s oldest beer.

A few days ago it was apparent that the world’s oldest champagne had been salvaged from a 200-year-old shipwreck near the municipality of Föglö in the southern archipelago of Åland. The bottles, which had been preserved at the bottom of the sea at a depth of about 50 meters (about 164 ft), have now been brought to the surface and the salvage has ended.

In addition to the larger champagne bottles a number of larger bottles were found. During the salvage on Wednesday one of these bottles broke when the fragile glass had a crack in it. One was immediately able to see that the bottle contained beer.

– In all likelihood this is the world’s oldest preserved beer. We are now able to state that we are in possession both the world’s oldest champagne and the world’s oldest beer bottles, says Mr. Rainer Juslin head of the department at the Government of Ã…land.

The temperature and darkness has provided an optimal preservation environment. The pressure in the bottles has stopped the salty water from entering through the corks.

The market value of the champagne bottles has been judged by experts to be in the range of several tens of thousands of euros per bottle. The economic value of the beer bottles is still unclear.

The work related to determining the origin and exact age of the shipwreck is still ongoing. However, it is deemed likely that the ship went down in the beginning of the 19th century. When the work related to the research and catagorisation of the findings on board the ship has ended the Government of Ã…land will invite media and provide more detailed information about the salvaged items.

Mr Max Jahrehorn, conservator at Kalmar läns museum describes what happened to the local newspaper Ålandstidningen:

There was a “whop” sound as the bottle cracked below the neck. It started foaming immediately and the foam was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a beer.

The remaining contents of the bottle were transferred to another container and secured for further research. According to experts there is still yeast residue in the bottles and it would theoretically be possible to start brewing new beer from the old yeast.

Old Beer in New Bottles?

Not long after the announcement local microbrewery Stallhagen announced an interest in producing the beer. Acting CEO of Stallhagen Mr. Janne Laiho said they are willing and able to start reproducing the 200 year old beer. Stallhagen has been in contact with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in order to do research into the properties of the yeast and beer. Rumors have it that many other large international breweries are also interested in reproducing the beer. The local government has adopted a wait and see approach.

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