125-Year-Old Beer Tastes ‘Surprisingly Like Beer’

By Mike Pomranz |
125 YEAR OLD BEER TASTES LIKE BEER FWX

© George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Every good drinker has made that desperate dig into the back of the fridge searching for any remaining bottles that might have gotten lost in the shuffle. Sometimes, you might even come across a brew whose freshness is in question. But I doubt you ever found something 125 years old – partly because modern refrigerators weren’t quite invented yet.

Back in November, amateur scuba diver and treasure hunter Jon Crouse discovered a bottle of beer at the bottom of Halifax Harbor. The corked brew seemed well sealed, leaving the obvious adventure-seeker to wonder if it might even still be drinkable.

After consulting with bar owner Christopher Reynolds and expert in fermentation research Andrew MacIntosh—two good professional groups to consult for pretty much any problem you may have—Crouse and company decided the beer, marked with a cork from “A. Keith & Son Brewery,” was probably about 125 years old. Even better news came this week when they decided it was also safe to taste.

But just how good it tasted takes some parsing. Reynolds said, “It tasted surprisingly good, and surprisingly like beer,” according to CNN, two compliments that sound surprisingly like what you might say after drinking your buddy’s not-particularly-awesome homebrew—a fact that became clear as he delved into a more detailed description. “We got like a little tree fruit note, a cherry note in there somehow—certainly a lot of sulphur, kind of rotten egg stuff going on.” Crouse, meanwhile, declined to sample the beer, despite being the one who found it. “It smelled like smoked hickory ham, beer, and Sulphur,” he said.

MacIntosh, who also tried the beer, seemed to side with Crouse. “You wouldn't want to drink any of it,” he said. However, he was optimistic about the scientific ramifications. “This will give us insight into how it was brewed in the 1800s.”

So all in all, drinking 125-year-old beers might not be the best of ideas—unless eggy beers are your thing. But hey, if someone asks you to drink something in the name of science, you should always drink something in the name of science.

Related: How to Tell If You're a Beer Geek or a Beer Snob 
The Legend of the First Pope-Approved Beer 
Ultimate Brewery Tour of the U.S., According to Science

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