MARIEHAMN, Finland — Finnish authorities said Wednesday they plan to allow one or several modern breweries to replicate the recipe of beer discovered in a nearly 200-year-old shipwreck.
Divers discovered the beer in July, when they were salvaging champagne bottles from a wreck which sank in the early 19th century, which makes both the champagne and the beer the world's oldest.
"I don't care so much about the champagne," Christian Ekstroem, the diver who discovered the wreck's cargo, told AFP at a ceremony to uncork some of the bubbly on the Baltic island of Aaland.
"Champagne we can only sell or drink up, but... we can use the beer to produce something unique and local. It's historically meaningful," he added.
Ekstroem, in addition to being the province's foremost diver, is also the manager of a pub for a local microbrewery called Stallhagen.
He said that one of the beer bottles cracked open on the boat's deck, and the dark, ale-like liquid frothed up like any fresh brew, indicating that the yeast was incredibly still alive.
Some of the beer has been sent to the Technical Research Centre of Finland to probe the makeup of the beer's chemicals and microbes.
"We don't know if the yeast is alive, or sleeping, or dead," Rainer Juslin, a spokesman for Aaland's department of culture said during a presentation on the shipwreck's cargo on Wednesday.
Juslin added that several microbreweries, including Stallhagen but others from North America, were keen on the idea of using the shipwrecked beer to grow a root to produce more beer exactly like what was found.
Ekstroem, who tasted the beer, says he would be extremely disappointed if the authorities in the autonomous Finnish province did not give Stallhagen the opportunity to produce the beer locally.
He said that in the early 1800's, only the best beers were bottled, which makes this find even more exciting for connoisseurs.
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