LONDON, UK (CBS) -- Thirsty Londoners and visitors to the British capital can raise a glass to Olympic medal winners with an ale straight from 1908, when London first hosted the Games, after a local brewery discovered a 104-year-old recipe in dusty archives.
Six months of painstaking research by the Camden Town Brewery, a high-tech business crammed under a series of railway arches in north London, have resulted in the company bottling their own 1908 Pale Ale in time for Friday's opening ceremony.
The brewery was looking for a limited edition beer for 2012 and thought Olympics.
"The thing that was the most interesting to us is thinking about what beer would've drunk at the previous London Olympics because this is the third that would've been in London now," Camden Town Brewery spokesman Mark Dredge told Reuters as the golden labels, sporting a 1908 Olympic high jumper from the Games program of that event, were being stuck to the bottles rolling off the production line.
"We looked at 1948, then we looked at 1908 and also realized at that time, there was a brewery in Camden at that time called Camden Brewery. That whole idea spawned six months of research, that gave us the opportunity to look at the history of this area in terms of brewing, look at the pubs around here, look at the pubs that would've been made. And that really started this whole project off."
Yet the ale, which Dredge said he believed was named Elephant Ale at the time, in honor of the Elephant's Head pub that still stands in Camden Lock, was nearly lost forever.
The former Camden Brewery changed hands over the toss of a coin in the 1920s and was swallowed up by the Courage Brewery -- a chain that owned swarms of pubs across London.
Luckily, Dredge said they found a brewer's record in the archives, bound in a leather book, detailing the 1908 Pale Ale that was becoming increasingly popular at the time of the Olympics.
"So what makes the 'Camden 1908' special is that we've taken this old recipe, we've looked at it, we worked out what the ingredients would've been like and we found the modern alternatives to them. And we've had the creative and scientific challenge of coming up with the modernizing of an old recipe. So we've taken the current grains that we've got and we've combined them together to get the exact flavor profiles we need. We looked at old hops and we found English hops and we also found that it used American hops, which most drinkers think is a modern thing, but it's actually been happening for a couple of hundred years. And we also used a specific strain of yeast, which is a London yeast, which is what would've been used at that time," he said.
Dredge talked about what distinguished "Camden 1908" from other Pale Ales.
"So as you can see, it's a real bright amber color in there. You've got a real creamy foam to it and this is all coming from the pale malts that we use. From that you're going to get a real biscuity, caramely flavor in the grain. And because we use the two varieties of hops, one of them gets a real earthy character, one of it gives us a floral, black curranty flavor, which is really interesting and there's quite a big bitterness in there as well at the end which makes it really nice and dry," he said.
Dredge said the beer could not be called "Olympic Pale Ale" due to copyright issues with the international sporting body, instead opting to call it "Camden 1908" Pale Ale.
Around 4,000 liters of the amber liquid are being produced and hopefully consumed during the fortnight of the Games as London's pubs gear up for an Olympic boom.
He said were already orders coming in from beer fans, pubs, bars and restaurants hoping to stock up the special brew.
London's specialty brewers are thriving despite the economic woes of the country, which is still gripped by recession.
There are currently 27 breweries in the capital, a four-fold increase in four years, according to Dredge.