fbpx
Connect with us

Community

ICE:How Intrepid Souls Spent Their Winter Lockation

How do you #DiveLocal when a pandemic is raging and all of the local surface water is frozen? Climb into your Arctic Expedition, grab a saw, channel your inner Wim Hof, and prepare to go hyperbrrric—the water’s jjjjjust fffffine!

Published

on

Header image by Michela Di Paola Photography.

“I’m under the frozen lake’s surface and I can observe the layer of ice on top of me and the sunlight penetrating from the hole. I’m in a new dimension where, surrounded by deep silence, I can still perceive and observe the silhouettes of the persons on the surface.” Michela Di Paolo

Welcome to our special winter edition of InDepth. We wanted to catch a bit of the local lockdown diving spirit—no warm water travel diving here. So we reached out to some of our obsessive, warm-blooded diving friends and colleagues to break the ice. Here’s what they shared.


Lake Michigan, USA

“I’m used to ice diving in February. Over the past few years, it’s been in Antarctica, but that wasn’t an option this year. The good news: I landed a photoshoot with Seiko to dive their new Ice Diver Watch and so we obviously needed ice and headed to Michigan. Luckily temperatures plummeted in late January and the inland lakes were nicely frozen over with more than a foot of ice! It was really cold, in fact the air temperatures were colder than the water so we stayed under for 85 minute dives. I think it’s magical to cut that hole and slip below the cold, white world into a completely different place. I’m always mesmerized by the clear ice and the bubbles trapped in it. Our project was successful and the ice conditions were fantastic!“—Becky Kagan Schott

Top: David Schott under ice, photo by Becky Kagan Schott. Bottom: Becky Kagan Schott with watch under ice, photo by David Schott. Guys, get a photo studio!

Morrison’s Quarry, Ottawa, Canada

We’ve been diving under the ice since 2008, fast forward to this year and some of the faces have changed, and some of our equipment, but we are still ice diving, taking photos, and enjoying the beautiful viz. We ice dive at the quarry just located just north of downtown Ottawa. The visibility is easily 30 m/100 ft. You cannot silt it out, and the temperature rarely goes below 3ºC/37ºF. Toasty!

As much fun as we have, we do take our diving seriously, and make sure that we follow safe diving protocols. Anyone that joins us must have overhead training for starts. We use cave diving protocols, and we are not tethered. We use a reel, and always have a continuous line to the surface.

We put an ice screw into the surface of the ice, where we attach our reel, then go to get geared up. There is a nice, stove-heated cottage at the quarry, that makes getting changed much more comfortable. Each team goes to the water together, and gear checks are done without breathing the regulators. This is the absolute last thing we do, before descending, to avoid a regulator free-flow. The leader takes the reel, and we submerge into the blue abyss.  

Once below, we practice bottle rotations, bottle and scooter drops, valve drills, s-drills, disconnecting inflators, taking photos, and even just hovering, or looking for the resident turtle. Once in a while, you may see a fish. [Ed. Note: The GUE waypractice, practice, practice!]

Upon our return to the opening, we immediately undo our harness buckles and drysuit inflation hoses to beat the freeze. One thing NOT to do, is to partially unzip your drysuit zipper. I made that mistake once, thinking I was quite clever getting my zipper started. It proved to be exactly the opposite of clever. The zipper froze, and being half open, I could not jump back into the water to thaw it. I sat in a heated van for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for my zipper to thaw, so that I could unzip it. You will only make that mistake once!—Chan Blanchard 

Photos courtesy of Chantelle Blanchard

Listen up people: 🎶 Ice, Ice Baby!” 

Borek Quarry, Southeast of Prague, Czech Republic

Not having any luck reaching Divesoft’s Jakub Slama by email? Chances are he is partaking in some water time at the local quarry, testing gear. This in the dead of winter. Slama calls it a “A nice day away from emails!”

“On this particular day we went to test gear at Borek Quarry, which is a popular place popular for fun dives and training, located about 1.5 hours SE of Prague in a small valley and covered with about 15cm/0.5 ft of snow. It’s about 33m/110 ft deep with water temperature at its lowest at 4ºC/39ºF. The air temperature was -10ºC, so a little chilly. The testing crew consisted of the J3 Team; Jakub Hecko, one of Divesoft software programmers, Jakub Šimanek, the factory instructor trainer and myself, Jakub Slama the sales guy. 

We packed up the van with gear and the list of tasks and headed for the quarry. After opening the boom gate, we put our snow chains on the van and drove right down to the water. There was about 5cm/2 in. of ice completely covering the quarry; too thick to break without tools. We cut the ice with a chainsaw at a place shallow enough to climb out of the ice, which is quite handy, especially with a gear on. 

We were testing a new remote display, which is nearing completion. I was also testing a new configuration of Divesoft’s Liberty rebreather called the “Heavy,” [A GUE-configured CCR] after we made some changes. [Ed.—He’s Not Heavy, He’s My (GUE) brother??] All of us were diving rebreathers with plenty of bailout, as direct ascent to the surface was not possible. Visibility was about 15m/50ft and deteriorated to about 6-8m/20-30ft on the bottom. We ran our reels all the way.

The dive took about 75 minutes including a short deco. I was the only one without a heated dry suit. The boys were toasty. After getting out of the water, you have to get your gear in the van quickly, otherwise everything freezes together, especially fabric and concrete. We headed back to write up our test reports. It was a nice test day, away from emails.”—Jakub Slama

Photo courtesy of Jakub Slama. Background image by Michela Di Paola Photography.

Quebec, Canada

We asked Nath Lasselin, who is an award-winning filmmaker, producer and arctic diving expedition leader to share her love of the ice. Here’s what she sent. Wow!

Rabbit Lake in the Chugach Front Range, Alaska

Definition: Type 2 Fun is loosely defined as something that is typically misery in the moment, but fun in retrospect. Backcountry, alpine, winter ice freediving falls squarely in the category of Type 2 Fun.

“This January, with surface temperatures plunging to -20°F/-29ºC, a group of local freedivers loaded up expedition sleds with winter mountaineering equipment, freediving gear, pole saws for cutting through the ice, and contingency gear, and set out towards Rabbit Lake—a remote, alpine lake over six miles into the Alaskan backcountry. Local freediving has experienced a huge surge in popularity, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic. With various degrees of business restrictions, many local divers have turned to more creative, adaptable methods of exploring underwater. 

In the summer, the Lake boasts 100 ft/30m plus visibility, but even in July the water is 42ºF/6ºC; in January, once you get past the ice, it’s 33ºF/0.6ºC. Divers wore 7mm open cell apnea wetsuits. In many cases, these suits are actually warmer than dry suits when floating on the surface, and keep you almost entirely dry prior to submerging. In this instance, it was obviously crucial; not only for comfort—or as close to comfort as you can get when ice is forming on the inside of your mask—but also for safety. 

Normally, experienced freedivers in attendance have breath-hold times ranging from four-to-six minutes. However, between the cold, the caloric burn from hiking, climbing, and cutting through almost four feet of solid ice by hand, divers were happy with 90-second holds per dive. And while we’ve pushed past 30m/100ft deep in Rabbit Lake in the summer, on this trip, illuminated by 15,000 lumen video lights, divers stayed within 10m/33 ft of the surface, using a weighted line to find their way back to hole, like a cave diver running a reel.  

Any expedition needs support, and especially on trips like this including; support personnel, cohesive teams, careful planning, and proper equipment. These underscore the difference between Type 2 Fun and accidents. In many ways, we use these trips as an opportunity to practice and execute extremely challenging projects safely. The procedures and methods are saved for future projects and refined and improved as needed.—Ron Fancher

Photos courtesy of Dive Alaska, Jordan Flesner, Jarod Powell, Frank Marley, and Alex Fancher

Shiretoko National Park in Northern Hokkaido, Japan

Our friends at Fourth Element know all about ICE, or rather counteracting its effects. A few seasons ago, the enterprising British thermal purveyors hosted Expedition ICE—a dive trip to Shiretoko National Park to photograph the elusive free swimming Sea Angels aka Clione limacina. Of course they used the opportunity to test their new non-electric X-Core heating vest, which allowed for some extended dive times. Isn’t that what diving is all about? More depth, more time.

 

Top Photo by Charlie Jung. Expedition photos courtesy of Fourth Element.

Vladivostok, Russia

Welcome to the seventh-annual World Under Ice Dive Games, held this year in snow and ice-laden Vladivostok, despite COVID-19 restrictions. The event was sponsored by DAN Europe, the National Dive League, the Russian Geographical Society, and Frogman drysuits. This year 30 intrepid heat-challenged divers from Russia, Korea, Egypt, Italy and Cyprus braved the cold to compete on the special underwater course beneath the ice. Using their compass and a map, divers navigated the course according to their instructions and earned points by performing certain tasks along the way, while on the clock. The winners were treated to warm fuzzies! [Ed—We made that last part up] See you at Vladivostok next year. Don’t say Nyet!—Sergei Cherepanov

Photos courtesy of the Sea Frog Dive Club. DAN Europe banner art by Russian cartoonist Sergey Cherepanov, Instagram @seniorcartooner.

Lake Lison, Switzerland

“Our tradition is to go ice diving for one big weekend at the end of every winter with a group of friends. We chose this lake because the visibility is usually very good and we hoped to get some good shots. The air temp was 5ºC but the water was only 2ºC. It was freezing! Because of the cold, we kept dives to 20-30 min. What’s more, the regulators went freezing when we jumped. It definitely made valve drills challenging!—Christelle Baudat 

Photos by Gatien Cosendey.

Lower Saxony, Northern Germany

“My buddies Antonia and Christian  and I dived in a dredging lake, which has a maximum depth of 18m. The air was -6ºC/21ºF and the water 3ºC/37ºF. I was wearing my heated Santi vest beneath my DIR gear and we used a 50m/165 ft leash and a 2m/7ft buddy-leash for safety. It was my first time sawing a hole in the ice, which definitely warmed me up. Of course, my dog was very curious and found the ice hole intriguing. I had to make sure she didn’t fall in. We’re still learning ice diving and think it would be sensational to go ice diving in Greenland”—Claudia Lindner

Photos courtesy of Claudia Lindner. Background image by Michela Di Paola Photography.

Gullmarsfjorden in Lysekil, Sweden

“Gullmarsfjorden is a popular place for Scandinavian divers to visit. We refer to it as “green water diving.” Fortunately, the winter opens a whole other type of diving for our group who would like to see something different. Our adventure took place in January, which is typically mild. My buddy Erik and I decided to go diving on a sunny day to get some nice ambient light for a multicolor shallow water photo. Fortunately, the temperature outside has been below freezing for over a week and the ice only covered the confined areas in the harbor, so no hole cutting was needed. The beginning of the dive was the worst, as your face hits the 0°C/32ºF water. But it went numb after a few minutes and was no longer a bother. We tied a reel to our entry point right where the ice started and used it the whole dive. Unfortunately, the fish life is not what it is during summer, many divers look for nudibranchs and squids instead.”—Jesper Haav

Photo courtesy of Jesper Haav.

Lake Plöenersee, Germany

“The opportunity to ice dive in Germany is limited. The cold periods are usually not long and hard enough for the lakes to freeze over. But this February was perfect! We were the first ones at the lake in the morning and sawed our way into the water. Hard work for hard men! With water temperature of 3ºC/37F and a frosty -15ºC/5ºF in the air, we had to prepare our equipment especially carefully.

We had an “encounter of a different kind” when ice sportsmen met above and below the water. We were diving in the shallow area in a small indentation of the lake. Some ice skaters were having fun there, too. We could see them dimly! They were making their circles above us and we could hear their scratching on the ice booming loudly in our ears. It  was a surreal experience!

Unfortunately, even ice dives are limited by gas supply and eventually must come to an end. In retrospect I should have hurried from the lake to the car! The zipper on my drysuit iced up in the frosty air. I had warm water in the car, but it was closed. And the key was? In my suit of course!”—Keith Kreitner

Photos courtesy of Keith Kreitner. Background image by Michela Di Paola Photography.

Lake Palù, Chiesa Valmalenco, Italy

Photo courtesy of Michael Forenzi.

“My dive in Lake Palù will always remain in my memories. The air temperature was 0ºC/32ºF degrees while the water temperature was 2ºC/36ºF. The episode that I will never forget relates to my regulator. I was ready to jump into the water only to discover that my regulator was completely frozen and it was not possible to breathe! In order to make the dive, I dipped it in a pot of boiling water, put it in my mouth and immediately submerged under the ice! It was a short dive and not very deep. Thanks to the Valtellina sub DIVE club for making it a wonderful experience!—Michael Forenzi

Anterselva, Italy

“There is no shortage of locations for the cold winters of the Alps. But in Anterselva in the northeast it is special! A small alpine lake at 1650m/5,414 ft completely surrounded by mountains of more than 3000m/9,843 ft. The lake was formed thousands of years ago, after a landslide blocked the path of the stream that flows downstream. In fact, on the bottom we can still admire huge fossil trees, which were part of the forest that once covered the valley floor. Ice is always very thick at this altitude. From 60 to 90 cm/2-3 ft and it is not easy to cut with a chainsaw. At night the temperatures drop to -15°C/ 5ºF, but during the day it is a few degrees above zero. We found a fossil tree, still standing, after who knows how many hundreds of years! It has a huge diameter; the two of us could not surround it with our arms. As soon as we touched it, the sediment clinging to its surface was released, ruining the visibility.”— Matteo de Lorenzi

“Time simply stops underwater, there is only you with your buddies; and you are there impressed by the landscapes and wonderful phenomena that Mother Nature offers you.”Michela Di Paola

“My heart’s beats slow down, my breathing rate becomes normal, I don’t feel the chill anymore and I’m almost astonished observing the wonderful spectacle in front of me; the world seems upside down.”Michela Di Paola

“I lift my head up and admire the air bubbles that, coming out from my regulator, go up towards the ice surface upon us and run away, (more or less fast), in different directions, glittering and reflecting many colours creating a magic game of lights and shadows. It generates emotions that are more than words can say, and will remain unforgettable.”Michela Di Paola

Images by Michela Di Paola Photography. Grazie to Niccolò Crespi for his help with this story. 

Undisclosed Lake, Finland

Around January to March most of the lakes and quarries in Finland have ice cover and the sun is quite low so the water gets very clear because it’s cold and there is no photosynthesis. During these times the water below 6m/20ft is around 4ºC/, but shallower than that the water is closer to freezing.

One ice diving specific safety issue is free flowing regulators and freezing inflators. You learn to be very quick disconnecting your inflator LP hoses.

My personal record is seven times during an ice dive. Because the water is coldest near the surface and the freezing happens usually at the surface or just below, one tip is to start the dive just using your drysuit until you hit 6m/20ft where water starts to get warmer. Another is to add some silicone to the inside of your inflator to prevent it from freezing, and do your regulator check underwater not at the surface to prevent freezing. Lastly, I can tell you that a warm beverage tastes very good after nice long ice dive.”— Teppo Lallukka

Photo courtesy of Teppo Lallukka

Antarctica

Leopard seal photo is by Caleb Leake and the divers in the ice image is by Jim Van Gogh.

We can’t mention ice, without giving a shout out to the Queen of Ice Adventures, our friend Faith Ortins, founder and principal of Blue Green Expeditions.

“Diving around icebergs in polar waters is a different kind of challenge. While there is less risk of an overhead environment, there are other issues that are unique to this type of diving. First, it is important to remember that these icebergs are large sources of fresh water gradually mixing with the salt water ocean they are sitting in. That means there is usually a layer of relatively fresh water around the iceberg creating a vertical halocline of variable width. Unlike haloclines sometimes found in caves, this halocline is usually impossible to see as it is the same temperature of water as the sea water. As a result, it is common for neutrally buoyant divers to swim into a fresh water layer and find themselves sinking rapidly. Of course, they respond by adding air to their BC or swimming upward only to exit the fresh water and begin rising very quickly. And the yo-yo effect begins. This takes some getting used to even for experienced divers. However, those with good drysuit skills will adjust quickly.

The second issue is that this iceberg environment is generally much more dynamic. The polar dive guides are very good at selecting icebergs that are stable due to either their size and shape or being grounded on the bottom. However, the weather conditions are very prone to changing, and of course, the icebergs themselves are constantly as they melt. It is critical that divers have excellent situational awareness skills. They must watch for changes in the ice in the event the iceberg begins moving which could lead to the diver being trapped under the ice very suddenly. Even a small piece of ice breaking off from the lower part of the iceberg could knock a diver unconscious if hit when the ice floats up to the surface. Reading the ice is an important skill for diving around icebergs and the knowledge of the polar dive guides is paramount. It is also one of the most fun dives ever. Well worth braving the freezing polar waters.”—Faith Ortins

Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) has teamed with Ortins and her team to provide two unique diving trips to Antarctica in January and February, 2022 and spaces are still available. Need further encouragement? Here GUE founder & president Jarrod Jablonski quizzes Faith about the coming expeditions. Keep the Faith! And stay warm people—go talk to Mr. Standing!


Additional Resources:

Check out Nico Lurot’s Top Ten Ice Diving Locations in The World on GUE’s YouTube channel. And for God sake’s stay warm!!! ;-D

Community

Brits Brew Beer Booty

What do you get when you combine British divers’ proclivity for shipwreck exploration with their strong affinity for beer? A tasty treasure hunt on the “Wallachia” that resulted in swilling 126-year old reconstituted British beer. GUE Scotland’s detective chief inspector Andy Pilley recounts the tale.

Published

on

By

by Andy Pilley
Images courtesy of
A. Pilley

Header Image: GUE Scotland’s brewmeisters enjoying their brew (L to R) Top: Owen Flowers, Andy Pilley, Wayne Heelbeck. Middle: Steve Symington, A. Pilley, O. Flowers, Bottom: W. Heelbeck, Sergej Maciuk, S. Symington

“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer, and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.”

Queen Victoria

I never thought when I started diving 10 years ago, that one day I would be able to sit down for a pint of beer with the team from GUE Scotland recreated from a brew that has been hidden under the waves for 126 years. Let me explain.

The Wallachia was a single screw cargo steamer that was owned by William Burrell & Son of Glasgow, and employed on regular trips between Glasgow and the West Indies. On 29th September, 1895 she left Queen’s Dock, Glasgow at 10am bound for Trinidad and Demerara. On board was a valuable general cargo including whisky, gin, beer, acids, glassware, and earthenware plus building materials and footwear. By 1pm that afternoon she had settled on the seabed of the Clyde Estuary after colliding with another ship in a fog bank, she was forgotten until 1977 when a local sub-aqua club rediscovered the wreck site.

The wreck of the Wallachia lies on an even keel in approximately 34 metres of water on a sandy seabed. The wreck itself is largely intact and has six holds in total, three forward and three aft. In the rearmost hold there are thousands of bottles of beer, some still inscribed with the name of the maker, McEwans of Glasgow. This is where myself and the team from GUE Scotland enter the story.

The Wreck of the Wallachia 

The Wallachia is one of the more accessible sites on the west coast of Scotland, where we carry out most of our diving. Depending on weather and tidal conditions, visibility on the wreck can be +10m/33 ft on a very good day or less than 2m/6 ft if there has been a lot of rain due to the amount of particulate in the water. Other elements to consider are the tide as this can vary in its intensity, as well as surrounding boat traffic. The wreck lies in close proximity to a ferry route and care must be taken not to dive when the ferry is closeby. However despite the challenges, the wreck is very rewarding and offers a diver plenty of places to explore and items to look at. 

The main point of interest for most has been the rearmost hold, where the bottles of whisky and beer were stored. The majority of the whisky was removed in the 1980’s however a few bottles can be found on occasion, depending where you look. What remains are thousands of bottles of beer, still with the corks and contents intact. Over the course of 2018 & 2019, the team at GUE Scotland dived on the wreck and recovered a number of bottles from the hold. 

After a chance discussion with a friend at dinner one night, I was given contact details for a company called Brewlab, which is based in Sunderland in the north east of England. Brewlab specialise in the provision of specialist brewing training, as well as laboratory services such as quality assurance, product development, chemical/microbiology testing as well as long term research options. I made contact with Keith Thomas, the Director of Brewlab, to discuss whether he would be interested in analysing the beer and investigating whether it could be recreated. Needless to say the proposal piqued his interest and arrangements were made for the bottles to be shipped to his lab.

Unbeknownst to me, the recovery of historical beers is rare, due to various sources of degradation/contamination which can affect any residual microbial cells and chemical components left in the beer that were used as part of the brewing process. So these samples are a valuable source of information on past brewing and microbiology. Over the course of 2019/2020, Keith and I kept in regular contact over the progress of the investigations and the full analysis of the beer has recently been published.

A Brewing Interest

Between 1850 and 1950, the application of scientific principles to brewing was becoming increasingly prevalent and microbiology was playing an increasingly important role. A pertinent issue in brewing microbiology around 1900 was the application of pure Saccharomyces yeast cultures developed by Hansen at the Carlsberg laboratory in 1888. These were readily adopted by continental breweries as providing more controlled production and purer beers. Application to UK brewing was, however, less positively received, in part because of the belief that British beers possessed particular flavours arising from mixed yeast cultures and, specifically, the involvement of Brettanomyces species. This was especially believed to be essential for the character of ‘stock’ ales which were matured for extended periods.

While a number of breweries did try pure culture yeasts, UK brewing was resistant to change and, with the intervention of World War I, retained its indigenous yeast cultures. Since the 1940’s a more biotechnological approach to fermentation demonstrated the value of pure culture and was progressively applied to the larger breweries developing at that time. 

During the formative period of brewery microbiology after Pasteur, brewing yeast were identified as Saccharomyces species based on morphological features of shape, filamentous propensity and spore characteristics. Non brewing, ‘wild’ yeast was recognised and termed ‘Torula’ if non-sporulating. Of these Brettanomyces strains were identified as contributing important character to stock ales. It is also clear from brewing texts that bacteria were recognised as spoilage organisms in beer, as had been initially demonstrated by Pasteur in 1863. These species were mostly categorised as bacilli and typically portrayed as rods and associated with sarcina sickness – generally producing sourness. Some studies, nevertheless, identified lactic acid bacteria as indigenous components of standard beers.

Contemporary breweries are increasingly interested in using novel microbiology, either unconventional yeast strains or mixes of species and strains for sour and natural products. Identifying the specific strains and species of yeast and bacteria present in Victorian and Edwardian beers is directly relevant to this and has particular value if cultures of authentic microorganisms can be retrieved. Reports of retrieved historic brewery microbiology are limited but hold interesting promise for identifying novel microorganisms.

The specific parameters of the analysis are contained in a published research paper, Preliminary microbiological and chemical analysis of two historical stock ales from Victorian and Edwardian brewing.”

As I mentioned, the primary objective of the analysis was to confirm whether detail could be provided on the original brewing ingredients and the fermentation microbiology. The analysis confirmed the use of Brettanomyces/Dekkera bruxellensis and Debaryomyces hansenii, which are brewing and fermentation yeasts respectively. The presence of Debaryomyces is interesting as this genus has not been noted as a historic feature of historic brewing, but has been identified in spontaneous fermentations, for example in Belgian lambic beers. Although the strain was reported to the brewing industry in 1906, it has not featured as a major contributor to beer fermentations since.



The analysis has also provided relevant information of the beer character and has confirmed that the beer recovered from the Wallachia was a stout, close to style expectations of the time and had an alcohol content of c. 7.5%. The colour gravity was high, resulting in a much darker beer however a much lower level of bitterness. Again this was typical style of the time and differs from other modern stouts.

More interestingly is the presence of various types of bacteria, which will likely have been picked up during the brewing process. The table below lists these for reference. Needless to say, historic brewing was not a sterile process in comparison to modern methods!

Bacillus licheniformisPlant and soil bacterium
Finegoldia magnaCommensal skin bacterium
Fusobacterium sp.Possible pathogenic bacterium
Kocuria roseaPossible urinary tract pathogen
Mogibacterium pumilumPossible oral cavity bacterium
Shigella sonneiEnteric pathogen
Staphylococcus epidermidisCommensal skin bacterium
Stenotrophomonas maltophiliaSoil bacterium
Varibaculum cambriensePossible pathogenic bacterium

Table 1: The bacteria found in the Wallachia beer bottles

Due to the relatively stable conditions on the wreck, being in near darkness and at a relatively cold temperature (between 6º–14ºC/43º-57ºF depending on the time of year), the live yeast structures within the beer were protected from sources of stress and allowed them to survive over the past 126 years. Luckily, Keith was able to extract these samples and begin to recultivate the yeast, specifically the Debaryomyces, with the hope of being able to rebrew the beer.

Cheers Mates

Just before Christmas, I finally received word from Keith that he had completed a trial brew and seven bottles of the brew were on their way to me. A few excitement laden days later and a nondescript box arrived at my office with the beer inside. I called the guys on our Facebook group chat to show them the case and got each bottle packaged up and sent out to them. 

A few days later, once everyone had received their sample we got together again to try the samples. There was an air of excitement after the two years it had taken us to get to this point, the most anticipated pint ever! I’m no expert in the flavour profiles of beer so you will have to forgive me for my relatively basic analysis. In summary, I got flavours of coffee and chocolate and there was a relatively low level of carbonation, which made it very drinkable. The rest of the team got similar flavours, the only complaint being there wasn’t more to try!

There will of course be slight differences in flavour since we don’t normally add the bacteria listed above as ingredients. However, the recipe we have is as close as we can make it to the original stock version.

The next steps for the project are to carry out further investigation on the characteristics of the Debaryomyces yeast strain in order to determine their suitability for fermentation and potential use in future brewing production. We are making approaches to various commercial breweries in order to discuss future commercialisation of the recipe and produce the brew on large scale. With the story behind the original recipe, we’re hopeful that the provenance would be a key selling point to consumers. It is my hope that the recovery of these samples will open up new possibilities for different types of beers to be developed, and offer something different for beer enthusiasts to try.

I have also found out that there are other types of beer to be found on the wreck, specifically an IPA style. Once we’re allowed to begin diving again, I am hoping to return to the Wallachia and recover some of these bottles so we can carry out the same analysis and keep the project moving forward.

In the mean-time, cheers!

Additional Resources:

The Brewlab Podcast, Episode 2 (March 30, 2021): Lost Beers Recreated from Shipwreck Bottles

GUE Scotland vlog -Episode 1


Andy Pilley is a Chartered Surveyor, team member of GUE Scotland, passionate wreck & cave diver and Ghost Fishing UK team diver. Andy started diving with the Scottish Sub-Aqua club in 2011 and began diving with GUE in 2018. Andy dives on the east and west coasts of Scotland where there is a rich maritime history and an abundance of wrecks to be explored. He has a passion for project diving and is developing objectives for a number of sites with the GUE Scotland team. He hopes to assist on the Mars Project and with the WKPP in the future.

Continue Reading