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Salvage divers in the Baltic Sea had already recovered some expensive bottles of champagne from a wreck when they made a surprise discovery: what may be the world’s oldest case of beer. For 200 years the beer had lain undisturbed in 164 feet of water, out of the sunlight and at a near constant temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit—in other words, nature’s vast beer fridge. Best of all, the antique yeast appears still to be active. Could it be drinkable? We hereby offer ourselves up as tasters.

But even if the beer is skunked, officials for the Aland Islands, the autonomous archipelago in whose waters the beer was discovered, are reportedly in talks with a local brewer about doing a forensic reconstruction of the beer’s recipe and brewing a modern-day version. Dated to the early 1800’s, the newly discovered beer hardly qualifies for Dogfish Head‘s ancient ales project, but we can’t help but wonder if our favorite fermentation-friendly archaeologist Patrick McGovern will look into the venture. The original brewer of the beer has not been identified, but salvagers believe the ship carrying it was bearing gifts from France’s King Louis XVI to the Russian Imperial Court.

Illustration used under a Creative Commons license

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