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New hope in quest for ancient beer

The owners of a micro-brewery have been given renewed hope in their quest to resurrect ancient beer recipes after a bottle was found and handed over.

Back in January, Tim Nicol and Simon Watson, of Stoney Ford Brew Company appealed for old bottles of beer in a bid to develop more beers based on the local brewing heritage.

They were hoping to find bottles of beer and reactivate the yeast inside to recreate the beers again but despite bottles being handed over, their quest had proved fruitless.

Until this week. Neil Scholes remembered he had a full bottle of unopened beer dating from the 1940s.

Father-of-two Neil runs second hand business Second to None Stamford and also does house clearances. He found the bottle a few years ago and stored it away. Once he heard about the quest for ancient bottles, he was only too pleased to pay a visit to the Ryhall-based brewery to hand it over.

“I am from a Stamford family and often keep items of local interest. I had the old bottle of ‘Stamford Ale’ in my collection and when I heard that ‘Stoneyford Brewery’ were looking for old local beer to revive the yeast I thought it was time to pass it on.

“Sometimes items have little commercial value and it is much more rewarding to find someone who will treasure it or have the perfect use for it. Stoney Ford make some great beer and I am thrilled that the brewery might be able to make a new beer from an old Stamford ale. It is great to keep Stamford’s long brewing history alive.”

Before this week’s find, three samples from donated bottles had been analysed and the yeast was not viable. DNA analysis of the yeasts in the hope Stoney Ford could match or closely match samples to library samples held at the National Yeast Bank also proved to be impossible as the yeast had degraded too far.

But Tim is hopeful Neil’s donated bottle will hold the answer to reviving Stamford’s brewing past. It will now be sent off to the laboratory to be tested. Tim said: “Watch this space!”

And if it works, Neil will be first in line for a pint!


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