Both bottles contained beautiful pale golden liquids, identified as beer by the presence of malt sugars, aromatic compounds and hops typical of the beverage. Chemical analyses showed that the beer could originally have featured hints of rose, almond and cloves. However, the beers in the bottles examined had not stood the test of time well.
The pale golden colour indicates that the beers were made from unroasted malt. The burned flavour suggests that heating at the mashing stage was not under control. It is possible, though, that a smoky flavour in beer was appreciated at the time. The beers were probably made from grain – barley or wheat or a combination of the two. Hops, of a variety typical of a couple of centuries ago, had been added before boiling the wort.
The analyses also appear to show they were two different beers - one with some characteristics typical of wheat beer and the other much hoppier than the first, and with different bacterial compositions. A presentation given by VTT on the findings is available as a PDF here.
They're going to sell some more of the champagne next month. The next step will presumably be to try recreating the beers - the Åland government is funding the research in a sort of PR exercise for the islands.