We're only here for the 170-year-old beer: Scientists analyse bottles found in Baltic sea shipwreck
Last updated at 8:11 AM on 29th June 2011
After a wait of 170 years scientists have finally cracked open one of the world's oldest bottles of beer.
A group at the Technical Research Centre of Finland popped the top on a bottle last week after they were discovered last summer.
The beer was salvaged from a shipwreck near the Aland Islands of the Baltic Sea.
Unfortunately after sitting 50 metres below sea-level for so long the bottle had not survived the test of time after becoming contaminated with seawater.
Despite this, scientists at the centre, located close to Finnish capital Helsinki, then analysed their discovery.
In the pale golden liquid they discovered malt sugars, aromatic compounds alongside hops that are still used in today's beers.
They also found evidence of lactic acid bacteria in the bottle, which would have given the drink a sour taste.
However, the one item they had hoped to find- live yeast cells - were not discovered in their analysis.
This means that the beer cannot currently be replicated using a reverse-engineering process.
The bottle the group chose to open appeared to be in worse condition than one that was accidentally broken in last year's expedition.
That beer was still fizzy, suggesting the presence of yeast in the liquid - which in turn creates carbon dioxide that gives the beer its bubbles.
Divers did manage to salvage a further five bottles from the wreck - and scientists are to now open another to repeat the process.
At the same wreck, divers also discovered some of the world's oldest drinkable champagne.
The group that found it claimed it tasted 'fantastic' when they opened one of the 100 bottles uncovered.
Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom said: 'We brought up the bottle to be able to establish how old the wreck was. We didn't know it would be champagne. We thought it was wine or something,
'It tasted fantastic. It was a very sweet champagne, with a tobacco taste and oak.'
An expert claimed at the time that each of the bottles could reach £50,000 if sold at auction.