You can now drink the same beer as swashbuckling sailors drank over 200 years ago.
Researchers from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA and the Australian Wine Research Institute recently isolated living yeast from a 220-year-old bottle of beer, and have been using it to brew unique beer using a similarly-aged recipe.
The ancient beer bottle came from the infamous “Sydney Cove” shipwreck, which occurred in 1797 on the shores of Tasmania’s Preservation Island. While most of the vessel’s sailors perished in the wreck, a few were able to complete a grueling 600-kilometer trudge back to Sydney, bringing the fated bottle of beer along for the trek.
According to Vice, both the chemical composition and the taste of the fascinating brew are foreign to modern palates. In a press release, the project’s researchers stated, “The beer has a distinctly light and fresh [flavor], giving a taste of beer that has not been sipped for 220 years.”
David Thurrowgood, the mastermind behind the project and a conservator at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, even went so far as to guess why the beer’s taste is so distinct, saying, “The yeast is an unusual three way hybrid with links to bakers, brewers, and wine yeast. It is genetically different to hundreds of yeast species it has been compared to from Australia and around the world. Traditionally beer was brewed in open vats. This yeast is consistent with historic brewing practices.”
If you’re not intrigued enough as is, the 220-year-old yeast is also “the world’s only known pre-Industrial Revolution brewing yeast.”
While there’s no word yet on whether or not Thurrowgood and his team are planning to make the unique beer available for mass consumption, we certainly have our fingers crossed. After all, we imagine that there’s nothing better than sitting back on a hot summer day and sipping from a refreshing bottle of history.