Story of a mysterious beer discovery

The shipwreck dating from about 1840 which was discovered in summer 2010 in the Åland archipelago was dubbed the Champagne Schooner. Divers investigating a previously located find confirmed that it was a two-masted sailing vessel sitting upright on the sea bed at 50 meters depth. On exploration, a number of bottles were discovered in the stern which later turned out to contain champagne and beer. The wreck and the finding of champagne caused enormous media attention all over the world.

Apart from the salvaged 145 bottles of champagne, five beer bottles also came to light. In addition to the beer and champagne bottles, the ship had a mixed cargo of luxury goods, delicacies and groceries. Among the delicacies can be mentioned a box of grapes, and there were also textiles, wineglasses, spices, coffee and osiers.

All the bottles containing beer were in brown hand-blown glass and of the same shape. They were sealed with corks. Bottled beer was a rare luxury in 1840’s. At that time, beer imports to Finland were relatively common, but most of it was in casks and barely 2% in bottles.

The mystery of the sunken wreck remains and many questions are still unanswered: What was the cause of the shipwreck? What was the ship’s name and what was its home port? What was the destination of the luxurious and valuable cargo? We hope that continued investigations will yield answers.

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