In early September of 2010, salvage divers off the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea found dozens of bottles of 200-year-old champagne, which made front-page news around the world. But as the retrieval of the champagne wound down, a small collection of an unknown bottled substance was found nearby.

As the mystery liquid was brought to the surface, one bottle exploded and a dark fluid seeped from the broken vessel. The startled recovery crew realized it was most likely beer – quite possibly the oldest bottles of beer in existence.
That sentiment was confirmed by Rainer Juslin, Permanent Secretary of the island’s Ministry of Education, during a subsequent CNN telephone interview. He stated, “At the moment, we believe these are by far the world’s oldest bottles of beer.”

The cargo of the ship, located between the Aland Island chain and Finland, went down in water roughly 164 feet deep sometime between 1800 and 1830. It is speculated that the liquid cargo was being shipped from Copenhagen, Denmark to St. Petersburg, Russia. The sender of the liquid gifts may have been France’s King Louis XVI, and the intended recipient perhaps the Russian Imperial Court, but these are just educated guesses.

The value of the champagne was placed at tens of thousands of euros per bottle, but the beer has been valued at considerably less, although, remarkably, the culture in the beer is still living! It seems the “drinkability” just doesn’t compare to what you will find in this shipment of beer from your favorite beer of the month club!

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Tracie Burket
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