Mystery ale sparkles despite lack of fizz

It’s not your average message in a bottle, but its contents got the noses and palates of Blenheim’s beer boffins mildly aroused.

But somebody, for whatever reason, discarded a bottle of the amber fluid on the Wairau Hospital grounds presumably decades ago. During excavations for the hospital redevelopment the bottle was found one and a half metres underground by excavator Owen Kennedy of Simcox Construction.

The Marlborough Express asked our beer expert Geoff Griggs for his opinion on the bottle’s age and viability.

“It might taste OK,” he said. “After all beer, like wine, should be cellared at a cool, even temperature, away from light.” The bottle was embossed with the ABC logo, the Auckland Bottle Company which had bottled beer since the early 1920s. Mr Griggs suggested a tasting might be in order so enlisted the help of the brewers from Renaissance Brewery.

But exposure to the air may have been too much for the old bottle, as the fizz was now gone. Peeling the corroded cap off, Mr Griggs noted the carbonation had already evaporated through a rusty hole. “I’ve got an idea this isn’t going to be pleasant.”

First impressions of the brew drew comments from Mr Griggs like, “some sherry quality”, “like chewing on cardboard”. Brewer Andy Dewchars’ verdict? “Not particularly pleasant but not terrible.”

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