Bottles of beer from 1886 shipwreck used to create modern ale

Bottles of beer salvaged from a 133-year-old shipwreck have been used to create a modern pale ale.

The appropriately named “Deep Ascent” ale is the brainchild of Saint James Brewery in Holbrook, N.Y., and recently made its debut at the New York State Brewers Association Craft Beer Festival in Albany.

“Yeast recovered from our 1886 Ale bottles. So cool!,” explained the Brewery, on Facebook. “Be the first to try our very, very, deep creation.”
Jamie Adams, owner of Saint James Brewery, created Deep Ascent from yeast he painstakingly cultured from bottles of English ale he salvaged in 2017 from the wreck of the SS Oregon, which sank off Fire Island in 1886.

The Oregon is “near and dear to Long Island scuba divers,” said Adams, a former Wall Street trader who took up brewing and diving after 9/11. “It was the Titanic of its day. It was built as a luxury liner to ferry people between New York and Europe.”

The wreck is 75 percent buried in sand, which shifts after storms to uncover various portions of the ship. “In 2017 we found the area around the first class dining room was accessible. It hadn’t been for years,” Adams said.


The shipwreck’s beer has sparked some controversy. Another brewer had planned to use the SS Oregon yeast.

“One of the divers I had enlisted to help me find these bottles with the intent of making beer had given one of them to this other brewer, unbeknownst to me,” Adams said.

The issue, however, has been amicably resolved.

Bill Felter of Serious Brewing told the Syracuse Post-Standard he’s scuttled his plans out of respect for his fellow farm brewer. “I don’t want to step on their toes,” he said.

Deep Ascent is not the first beer with its roots in a shipwreck. The Guardian reports that, in 2014, Belgian scientists recreated a beer from an 1842 wreck off the coast of Finland.

The SS Oregon was a “greyhound” ocean liner that broke the transatlantic speed record in 1884, according to the website. Sailing under Cunard colors, the liner was traveling from Liverpool, U.K., to New York when she collided with another ship and sank on March 14, 1886.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.