In 1796 a cargo of ales, wines, spirits and essential supplies sailed from Calcutta in Inda to Port Jackson, Tasmania on the Sydney Cove, however, the ship never reached its destination.
Foundering off Tasmania’s treacherous north coast, the Sydney Cove ran aground on a sandbank and sank while the crew salvaged what they could.
Although the ship failed to make it to Sydney, the bottles of beer survived for around 200 years on the seabed. In the 1990s it was recovered from the wreck during excavations by a marine archaeologist and sent to the museum in Launceston for preservation.
Now the beer is back, renewed and re-brewed courtesy of a partnership between the museum and Australian brewing company James Squire.
The Australian brewers are using yeast found in 200-year-old bottles of alcohol in an attempt to create the same brew.
Cultured in test batches, Museum conservator David Thurrowgood, who holds a double in chemistry, took it upon himself to see if the original samples’ yeast was still viable.
The surprise came when head brewer Haydon Morgan found the yeast to have significantly different properties to its modern-day counterparts, rapidly consuming all the available sugar in the ferment, and producing a dry beer.
This meant that even after 200 years on the seabed it could still be brewed.
The project came to fruition when James Squire came on board to brew beer from the yeast in commercial quantities, with the ultimate aim of releasing it for sale.