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article imageWill researchers be able to replicate beer from the 19th century?

By Leigh Goessl     May 15, 2012 in World
In a remarkable story, it is being reported that researchers in Finland have potentially figured out how to recreate beer originally made in the 19th century.
It all started in the summer of 2010 when an exciting find was made in the Baltic Sea waters near the Aland Islands. Explorers had identified what they'd believed to be the world's oldest drinkable beer.
The beer had been found as part of a shipwreck that was being investigated, which had included a find of 18th century champagne. At the time of discovery, the beer was estimated to have been transported somewhere between 1800 and 1830. Now, after further examination, experts believe the ship sank in the 1840s.
The discovery was made after the expedition members began hauling up the artifacts and one of the bottles had inadvertently broken and a fluid seeped out; experts had identified the substance as beer.
At the time of discovery in 2010, Rainer Juslin, permanent secretary of Aland's ministry of education, science and culture, told CNN, "At the moment, we believe that these are by far the world's oldest bottles of beer. It seems that we have not only salvaged the oldest champagne in the world, but also the oldest still drinkable beer. The culture in the beer is still living."
According to VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the researchers have taken the living cultures and managed to "isolate four different species of live lactic acid bacteria from the beer."
Through study, the researchers were able to learn a lot about the ingredients and methods of brewing in the 1800s. Examiners found through analysis the beer contained "hints" of ingredients such as almond, rose and cloves, and it was determined the beer was probably made of grain. No live yeast cells could be detected, although some dead yeast cells were found. VTT did note "trace amounts" of yeast DNA were found in one of the bottles.
According to LA Weekly (via Reuters) Annika Wilhelmson, of VTT, said, "Based on the chemical analysis we made of the beer and with help from a master brewer it would be possible to try to make beer that would resemble it as much as possible."
The initial objective of this project was to try and reverse engineer the beer and see if it could be recreated, but researchers now say there are other "interesting potential applications," which can be used in the modern day.
The name of the ship that had been transporting the beer, and other items, has still not been able to be identified.
More about Beer, 19th century, 1840s, Shipwreck, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
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