The treasure inside beer lost in a shipwreck 120 years ago

Long-forgotten yeast strains are being sought out from shipwrecks, abandoned breweries and other locations in the hope they could be put to good use if resurrected.

As we head towards the end of another extraordinary year, BBC Future is taking a look back at some of our favourite stories for our “Best of 2021” collection. Discover more of our picks here.

As the diver gently eased himself through a hatch into the sunken hold, he could see the shipwreck’s treasure lying in wait for him. It had been down there for more than 100 years. But now some of it was about to be freed from its resting place.

The explorer in question, Steve Hickman, a dive technician and amateur diver, carried a small, netted bag with him. The treasure he was after was beer. Preserved in the hold of this vessel were row upon row of glass beer bottles, partly buried in silt.

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MECHELEN: HET ANKER BREWERY AND CLASSIC BELGIAN BEER CAFES

Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Teapot

An entry from my beer notebook describes a day trip from Brussels in June 2019: “By shortly after noon, I had found my way to Het Anker, the ‘real’ reason for my visit to Mechelen. I love how beer, breweries, and their history get me out to places I wouldn’t otherwise visit!”

When you think about all those dazzling Belgian cities like Bruges, Antwerp, or Ghent, Mechelen probably isn’t the first place you’d think of visiting on a trip to Belgium. But with its magnificent St. Rumbold Cathedral, historic béguinage quarters, and vibrant squares, Mechelen is well worth the 30-minute train ride from Brussels.

Mechelen is also home to a dense concentration of classic beer cafes that exude a time-worn charm you just won’t find in many of today’s sleek but curiously anodyne establishments. And if that’s not enough, it’s also home to Het Anker, brewers of Gouden Carolus, a range of weighty beers named after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

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Echoes Brewing and The Big Ol’ Yuletide Miracle

By Stephen Body
Here’s a story about a man nam…No, no, no, nobody named Brady. Don’t panic. This is a beer tale. A rather twisted beer tale and I’m going to just skim it because it’s really none of my business but…I have a brewer pal named Mark Hood, up here in The Soggy Corner of America, specifically in the small but dynamic beer hotbed of Poulsbo, Washington, who founded and helped build the first Washington state brewery specializing in Belgian-style ales, Sound Brewery. In Sound’s too-short existence, Mark created several rather amazing ales, not all of them Belgian. After initially swearing that he would not just crank out IPA after IPA (in fact, he had originally planned to do NO IPAs), his customers’ repeated requests prompted him to make a few and they became classics of the style, here in the Nanny State. Humulo Nimbus, Humonkulous, Reluctant, and anniversary editions for Town & Country Markets and Seattle’s Chuck’s Hop Shop…all resonated strongly with our PNW HopHeads.

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The Anti-IPA Is Having a Moment

Rauchbier is neither cool nor easy to love. But in a world of fruited slushy sours and pastry stouts, the assertive smoked beer stands apart.
Steeped in history and tradition, yet challenging to appreciate, rauchbier (literally “smoked beer”) has, for much of the craft beer boom, resisted a revival. The style is brewed with malt or wheat that’s been smoked over beechwood or oak, resulting in a beer that’s decidedly not for everyone. But, despite its assertively smoky flavor—or perhaps because of it—rauchbier is having a moment.

The city of Bamberg, Germany, takes pride in claiming to be the birthplace of the style. One local legend tells of a cloister that caught fire and burned to the ground, sparing only the brewhouse and a reserve of malted grain which, having been exposed to smoke, subsequently gave the local beer its distinctive flavor. The tale is mostly hogwash, though; most beer made before the advent of modern malting technology likely expressed some level of smokiness from the kilning process. Nevertheless, Bamberg remains the cultural epicenter of rauchbier, though the style is gaining popularity in a number of brewing circles.

In many ways, rauchbier represents the polar opposite of the current craft beer zeitgeist, which has embraced the mass appeal of fruited slushy sours, soft and juicy New England IPAs and saccharine pastry stouts. The rising stock of rauchbier—whose flavor is divisive and anything but sweet—could be attributed, in part, to an inevitable backlash to the status quo. Paired with a certain underdog status and niche reputation, rauchbier ticks all the boxes of beer snob catnip.

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The Pour Fool: A Brief History of Flaming


Written by Steve Body, otherwise known as “The Pour Fool.”

Over the past going-on fifteen years of The Pour Fool, there is one thing that has never varied, never really waxed or waned at all, and that is people emailing me with complaints, insults, and "corrections" of things I've written. They email me because I refuse to allow nonsense like "You suck! You now NOTHING about beer (wine)(whiskey)(whatever)!!" onto the site and nothing goes on the site unless I approve it. Many people, improbably, have wailed about "censorship!!", as though The Pour Fool is a public utility or the airwaves.

It's not. Continue reading "The Pour Fool: A Brief History of Flaming"

For Whom The Bell’s Tolled: Kirin/Lion Bags Another One

By Stephen Body
A brewery owner pal of mine in Michigan messaged me this morning, with a link to the page where this message from Larry Bell, founder of Kalamazoo, Michigan’s iconic Bell’s Brewery. You see one of these things and you an feel it coming: Larry Bell is selling his brewery…which many readers of this website take as a definite signal that it’s time to watch Steve Body go ballistic.

And I did…a little.

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Stay Frosty: Reuben’s Brews Bear Hugs the Cold IPA


Adam, Reuben, Warren, and Grace Robbings/Photo by bizjournals.com

Written by Stephen Body
This scene above was the first time I ever heard the phrase, “Stay Frosty“. It probably was for a lot of people. I’m sure the screenwriter for Michael Biehn in “Aliens” probably didn’t dream that up. Dan O’Bannon probably heard it somewhere – being in LA, probably at Venice Beach, as uttered by some surfer dude – but everybody instantly knew what it meant. As a handy alternative to “Be cool!” (“Thirty Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary”, doncha know?) it was dead-bang perfect and it stayed with me ever since. I can’t use it in everyday speech, of course, because I’ve never been Cool a second of my life but Biehn pulled it off with a ton of élan, and so have a few others I’ve heard use it.

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Ales and Windswept Ambles Along the Fife Path Near Edinburgh

Written by Franz Hofer

Scotland is a walker’s paradise of wild and dramatic landscapes. Long-distance trails hug the banks of deep lochs and rugged coastal shoreline. They traverse glens and windswept plains, and pass in the shadow of craggy peaks. You could lose yourself for weeks on end along Scotland’s walking paths and hiking trails, all the while striking that three-note chord “in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.”

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Deschutes “Jubelale”: An American Icon, Reimagined

By Stephen Body
People ask me at least two, three dozen times a month, “What’s your favorite beer?“

I’ve been tasting – as in sip half an ounce, swirl in mouth, linger, and spit. NOBODY can do this job and drink a full beer each tasting. You’d have a liver the size of a Kia Sportage within months – somewhere around 1,500 beers a year for almost fifteen years, now. That’s in addition to the several thousand I drank back before I got full-time serious about doing a beverage blog. How in God’s Name can I possibly choose ONE beer, out of something over 25K, as my “favorite”

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A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Hoppy Question

                   NSBO with some long hair creep judging too.

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I’m still trying to figure out if I made a mistake. I stepped away from a mini-BOS table because I had what I thought was a prejudice towards an entry. Some considered the entry a tad problematic. My view was different.
 It happens.
 We were judging in the brewery at Star Spangled Brewery in Clarksville for The New South Brewoff. Always a grand time when I can do it, if not a grand time for those who do like Millie, my wife. BTW: apologies to those at NSBO: at least for a while I am getting away from individual reports on each competition. I think it more interesting to judges to bring up judging questions rather than what I judged, number of entries, etc.
 When it comes to one entry, did I make a mistake? I can only give you my perspective; especially when takes on that entry were so different. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Hoppy Question”