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Brief Published: 27 Oct 2014

Ancient Beer Revival

Stallhagen historic beer

As Stylus has previously reported, major alcohol companies are turning to historic ingredients, recipes and production processes in order to produce new and innovative alcohol products. Tapping into this trend, scientists in Belgium have successfully recreated a 170-year-old beer that was found in a shipwreck off the coast of Finland.

The beer had been submerged since 1842, and was found alongside more than 100 bottles of champagne. After extensive research, the scientists recreated the exact colour, bitterness and alcohol content of the historic beer, and stoppered the bottles with champagne corks. The brew will be released commercially by Finnish beer brand Stallhagen later this year.

"The living cells still present in the bottle helped us to determine the type of yeasts and bacteria used to produce it," says professor Gert De Rouck, who helped to reconstruct the beer. "For this beer, we combined history and tradition with innovative brewing knowledge." Historic ingredients have been featured in a number of recent launches. Nova Scotia-based brewing company Garrison has launched a batch of spruce beer inspired by an 18th-century recipe, while American brewery Dogfish Head has released a beer containing wheat and cranberries. Read more about this in Forgotten Foods.

Past discoveries have indicated that the submersion of alcohol in seawater can transform the taste and texture. In 2012, Mira Winery became the first in the US to submerge cases of wine in the sea for three months to determine the ageing effects. According to the company, the drink had a more complex flavour, and tasted as if it had been aged for a longer period of time. Read more about ocean-aged wine and beer in Drinks Developments: Alcohol and Cask-Aged Liquor: A New Approach.