Scientists ‘Rebrew’ 220-Year Old Beer With Yeast From Aussie Shipwreck

Scientists ‘Rebrew’ 220-Year Old Beer With Yeast From Aussie Shipwreck

Crafting beer is a science… especially when you’re using yeast from a shipwreck two centuries old. That’s right: an international team of scientists lead by an Australian researcher have “rebrewed” beer using yeast carefully collected from a sunken vessel off the coast of Tasmania.

Photos: Australian National Shipwreck Database

The vessel was the Sydney Cove, which took a one-way trip to the bottom of the ocean all the way back in 1797. The 250t ship was on its way to Port Jackson with a cargo of “alcohol, foodstuffs, textiles and livestock”, but instead of delivering them to the newly settled NSW, it was instead gifted to sea’s numerous underwater denizens.

Now, while some might rub their hands at the possibility of discovering gold dubloons or the remains of Leonardo Dicaprio, David Thurrowgood, conservator at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, was keen on the booze.

So keen, in fact, he embarked on a mission to “rebrew” period ales using yeast harvested from bottles recovered from the wreck.

The good news is he succeeded. According to a release from the QVMAG, the resulting beverage has a “distinctly light and fresh flavour”. What makes the yeast particularly interesting is its source (other than the bottom of the ocean):

“The yeast is an unusual three way hybrid with links to bakers, brewers and wine yeast,” said Mr Thurrowgood. “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.”

There’s no mention of commercialisation or public tastings, so if you’re keen on sip, you’ll have to clean out the bath and don some diving gear.

[Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, via ABC]