Oldest beer still ale and hearty

06 April, 2007

A massive hunt has found that a beer brewed in 1869 is the oldest bottle of drinkable beer in the UK.

Worthington White Shield head brewer Steve Wellington launched a three-month search for the oldest bottle of beer after finding a bottle of 1869 Ratcliff Ale in a cellar in the Burton-upon-Trent brewery last autumn.

Even though press coverage of Wellington's hunt reached as far as Melbourne, Australia, and Boston, USA, no bottles older than the Ratcliff Ale were found. The closest competition came from beer expert Roger Protz, who had been given a bottle from the Scottish Brewing Archive dating back to the early 1900s.

Beer historian Michael Jackson said: "Prior to this, the oldest drinkable beer I had tasted was just 25 years old."

Wellington and his team will now re-cork all the historic bottles to maintain their quality in the future.

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