Finnish brewery to recreate shipwrecked beer

A Finnish microbrewery will replicate beer discovered in a nearly 200-year-old shipwreck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea in 2010, it said Thursday.

Stallhagen plans to begin selling the ale next year, describing it as "one of the oldest existing beers in the world."

"There is ever-increasing demand for speciality beer on the international market and we are convinced that our product is going to interest beer enthusiasts around the world," Stallhagen's managing director Jan Wennstroem said in a statement.

Divers discovered the beer in July 2010, as they salvaged champagne bottles from the wreck, which makes both the champagne and the beer the world's oldest.

The bottles of beer and champagne were still drinkable, preserved by the slightly salty water, low currents, a constant temperature of five degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit), pressure from the sea and the total deep sea darkness.

The champagne -- some 168 bottles from Veuve Clicquot, Heidsieck and now-defunct Maison Juglar -- has since been sold at auctions.

Samples of the beer were analysed by the Finnish laboratory VTT, which determined its composition.

"It's a pale ale and resembles contemporary beer," VTT researcher Annika Wilhelmson said.

However, the analysis was not able to determine if the beer was made solely of barley malt or whether it also contained other grains such as wheat.

Experts have not yet been able to determine the origin of the ship, which appears to be a two-masted schooner of Nordic origin, built in the early 1800s. It is believed to have sunk in the Baltic sometime between 1825 and 1830.

Archive research has indicated it was sailing from Germany to Finland, which was a grand duchy of the Russian empire at the time.

The ship's contents belong legally to the authorities of the Aaland Islands, a semi-autonomous province of Finland.

The brewer has agreed to donate part of the sales to the Aaland local government to finance research on marine archeology and improving water quality, local government spokesman Johan Ehn said.