Diver tastes 105-year-old beer

'The first thing I noticed was the very strong smell of hops'

Oct 12, 1999 - A diver who recovered a 105-year-old bottle of beer from a shipwreck didn't realize it might be worth 1,000 before he went ahead and drank it.


The London Telegraph reported that Jim Phillips conceded that the beer, rescued from the wreck of the Loch Shiel off the Welsh coast, was the most expensive pint he had drunk.

The ship sank on its way from Glasgow to Adelaide in 1894 when it hit rocks off Thorn Island, Pembrokeshire. Much of the cargo, which included 7,500 cases of whisky and 7,000 crates of beer, was smashed or washed ashore.

Phillips and fellow divers found eight pint bottles. When they surfaced, the cork in one bottle popped and Phillips gave it a taste. "The first thing I noticed was the very strong smell of hops. It certainly didn't put me off, so I took a swig," he said. "It was flat but it had not been contaminated by the salt water even after all those years on the sea bed. I offered it around to the rest of the team but they weren't interested so I finished it.

"We later had the find valued at 1,000 a bottle, so that was certainly the most expensive pint I have had. It had popped its cork anyway so I couldn't see the point in wasting it. We still have seven bottles to auction."

Phillips said there were no labels on the bottles, so it was impossible to tell who had brewed it. This wasn't the first time he drank recovered treasure. In 1985 he had wine from the Langton Grange, which sank in 1906.

"It was lovely. I got a bit drunk and fell out of the boat. We took some to a restaurant and carried on drinking, not realizing that every bottle was probably worth thousands."

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