Students attempt to recreate 133-year-old shipwreck beer

Biotechnology students at the State University of New York at Cobleskill are teaming up with a local brewery in an attempt to brew beer from a 133-year-old bottle recovered from a shipwreck.

Image: SUNY Cobleskill

Supervised by Dr Lynda McMaster-Schuyler and Dr Peiyu Zeng, university students Sabrina Long, Zachary Taylor and Nino Gagliardi are attempting to extract strains of yeast from a bottle of beer from the SS Oregon.

The ship sank on a voyage from Liverpool to New York City in 1886, after colliding with a schooner when it was only a few hours from its final destination.

One person, out of the 852 people on board, is known to have died during the incident.

The university has partnered with Serious Brewing based in Howes Cave in New York State. Should the students successfully extract viable strains of yeast, head brewer Bill Felter will attempt to use them to brew a new beer.

Image: SUNY Cobleskill

The beer was uncorked in the presence of college president Marion A Terenzio, who joined Felter for a taste test. The beer was initially was given to Felter by a customer who owns three such bottles as well as other artefacts sourced from the wreckage.

Terenzio commented: “This is applied research at its best. Our faculty make it possible for us to do what we do, and for our students to perform research that undergraduates usually do not have an opportunity to perform.”

The biotechnology department will monitor the extraction process and will compare any extracted strains to four strains of years it has already cultivated in its labs.

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