In July of 1733, a fleet of 21 ships set sail from Havana to the port of Cadiz in Spain. Named the Plate fleet, the ships carried assorted cargo, such as indigo, silver pesos, fine porcelain from China, and dyes bound for the Spanish.
One of those ships was the Nuestra Senora de las Angustias, a 329-ton merchant ship laden with 4 cannons and a full crew complement.
Days after the fleet set sail, a hurricane descended upon them. While the crew did their best to save the ship, including cutting the masts down, the strength of the waves eventually tipped the ship over, spilling most of the cargo and ballast stones into the open ocean.
The ship eventually ran aground on a shallow coral reef and sank in 14 feet of water just off Cayo de Viboras, now called Long Key in the Florida Keys.
There were no fatalities, and the crew was able to begin an operation to salvage most of the good that had washed overboard. One passenger of the ill-fated voyage wrote a 60-page poem about the storm, the wreck, and the bravery of the crew. This poem was eventually published in Madrid years later.
This wreck currently sits at 24’47.455N, 80’51.738W. The ship is gone, and most of what remains are a large swath of the ballast stones that were thrown overboard by the waves. It is possible to dive the wreck, but visibility is notoriously low, currents can be strong, and eel and shark are known to frequent the area.
The wreck was also tapped as the inspiration for the fourth in Wynwood Brewing’s Shipwreck Series of wood aged bomber releases. As such, bottles of Nuestra Senora de las Angustias (Barleywine, 11% ABV, 100 IBU) were limited to only 450, and I snagged bottle No. 263 (hand numbered, nice touch).
The beer is actually Wynwood’s El Barrio Barleywine that was aged for 6 months in French Oak Petite Syrah barrels. And it is truly delightful.
The base beer is a fantastic barleywine, resplendent with big notes of dark fruits like plum and raisin. The aroma has a heady nose of strong, dark malts mixed with a deep, molasses-like sweetness. Color-wise, the beer pours with a reddish-purple haze and a small cream-colored head.
There is a wonderful undercurrent of the dry red wine, clearly celebrating the aging process under which the beer had gone. Those flavors, along with cherry-wooden notes from the oak, blend expertly well with the strong flavors from the barleywine. That aging also helped to soften the beer quite a bit, reducing the potential bitterness to very manageable levels.
In all, it’s a wonderfully mature and incredibly deep beer. Of course, it has since passed on, but we can await the next beer in the Shipwreck Series to come along soon.
And we won’t need a hurricane to do it, either.
Drink Florida Craft,