Shipwrecked Beer is Brewed 220 Years Later

Eva Seelye Nautical News

Divers recovering beer from the shipwreckFor this enticing story, we hop across the Pacific Ocean to our Australian neighbors’ mind-blowing discovery in a ship wrecked off the coast of Tasmania near Preservation Island. Commissioned from Calcutta, India, Sydney Cove struck a sandbank on her way to deliver supplies to Port Jackson, Australia, and sank to the ocean depths, treasure and all. But we’re not talking about gold, jewels, or any other loot you might imagine a 220-year-old ship to hide but rather, something a bit more tasteful, or shall we say tasty.

Mike Nash, a marine archaeologist with the Australian Historic Shipwrecks Team, led the excavation efforts in the 1990s where they recovered what was left of the ship’s beer that was part of their Sydney delivery. Twenty-six bottles were carefully extracted from the sandy bottom and delivered to the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in 2015. Nearly three years later, the beer has been re-brewed thanks to a partnership between the museum and James Squire, an Australian brewing company.

How is this possible? Well, museum conservator David Thurrowgood explained that if the yeast within these beer bottles is still alive, it could still be used to brew. Head brewer at James Squire felt it important to respect the history and integrity of the yeast while also brewing something modern day beer drinkers would enjoy. The Wreck Preservation Ale is a Porter-style beer with a rich, smooth taste and hints of blackcurrant and spices. Beer drinkers ventured to James Squire brew houses late 2018 to taste a piece of history; a small supply is preserved at the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in Launceston. To all Pacific Northwest brewers and shipwreck hunters: team up and let’s get our own version of this, stat!

Eva Seelye

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Raised in the Marshall Islands but with Washington as her second home, Eva Seelye is an independent writer and former assistant editor at Northwest Yachting. Her on-water enthusiasm surfaces in every aspect of her life. Read up on her adventures at

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