Those who have tasted the contents of a 125-year-old bottle of Alexander Keith’s from the bottom of the Halifax Harbour say it tastes “pretty good.”
Jon Crouse is an amateur scuba diver and recovered the bottle in November. He says he’s found plenty of bottles while combing the depths of the harbour, but nothing like this.
“I thought it was really cool,” said Crouse. “The buzz it created was kind of unprecedented. I didn't expect that.”
The bottle is believed to be upwards of 140 years old. But it wasn't the bottle itself that caught bar owner Chris Reynold's eye – it was the liquid inside.
“We think that the liquid in this bottle is as valuable or more valuable than the bottle itself,” said Reynolds. “We'd love to arrange to have it analyzed.”
Crouse and Reynolds sought the help of scientists at Dalhousie University to analyze the cloudy, straw-coloured liquid.
“We looked at the density, the colour, the bitterness units and the pH levels,” said Dalhousie University assistant professor Andrew MacIntosh.
After the tests pointed to the bottle being filled with beer and not seawater, there was only one thing left to do: Drink up.
Reynolds was impressed.
“It tasted surprisingly good,” said Reynolds. “Surprisingly like beer.”
MacIntosh says he tried the beer “for the sake of science.”
“You wouldn't want to drink any of it,” said MacIntosh. “It's terrible for a sample that's been sitting on the bottom of the Halifax Harbour for 100 years. It was surprisingly familiar as a beer product.”
The only one who didn't take a sip was the man who made the discovery.
“I've dove in the harbour. I've seen what it looks like,” said Crouse. “Although the cork seems to have sealed it really well.”
“There was a fair bit of acetic acid maybe. The next thing was salinity. There was definitely a bit of salt water,” said Reynolds. “Got some cherry notes, maybe some oak notes. A little bitterness, as well.”
And while the century-old Keith's may not have aged like fine wine, Reynolds is still happy he had a chance to taste it.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Matt Woodman.