MONTREAL – A bottle nearly as old as Canada discovered last year contained a bitter-tasting beer that was just about drinkable but not very good, a researcher who tested it said Thursday.
The bottle from the “Alexander Keith” brewery was nearly full when a diver recovered it from the bottom of the Atlantic in November.
It was brewed in Halifax between 1872 and 1890, just a few years after the birth of the Canadian Confederation in 1867, according to the team that studied it.
Andrew MacIntosh, who carried out the tests with colleagues at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said they determined the bottle’s age by its construction and inscriptions on its cap.
Tests indicated that the liquid had a low pH, that it still contained alcohol and was not toxic, he said in an interview.
“It’s not good. Beers don’t age well, especially in the bottom of the ocean,” said MacIntosh, an expert on fermentation who took a sip of it.
He said the beer gave off a whiff of sulfur, as well as a burnt scent.
“On the palate, there is an odd minty flavor which I presume is from nitrogen; there is also some salt and a surprising amount of bitterness,” he said.
Additional tests are to be performed on the beer, and a sample is being sent to a laboratory in Scotland for “volatile head space analysis,” MacIntosh said.
The data will then be compared to other brews of the period in hopes of getting a clearer picture of Canada’s earliest beers, he said.