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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: mrbowenz on December 26, 2009, 02:14:10 PM

Title: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on December 26, 2009, 02:14:10 PM
 wanted to share my somewhat unusal project with the AHA community, since it's beer related , give me your comments on thoughts on this adventure I am taking in July 2010.

Some of you may remember back in 2007 a bottle of Allsopp's Arctic Ale went up for bidding on Ebay, short discussion here:

http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=540

Although I never bid on this item, I fell in love with the story and started doing research on the bottle , the history, and the brewer. After almost 2 years of extensive research I came up with a few things.

1. This is a much bigger story than meets the eye.
2. This is an almost international treasure involving 3 countries of unparalelled importance.
3. How could I tell this mysterious story in a way that would interest all ?

A short bit about me, I am a homebrewer who has taken the hobby to some extremes, about the same time I started researching this bottle , I started to focus on historical re-enactments of a early 19th century brewer here in Pennsylvania, I currently have a muesum exhibit where I am a guest curator. In 2007 I also won the gold medal at the GABF ProAM, became a beer judge and competed in competitions all over including Hawaii. ( ok, so what )

About 8 months ago I got this crazy idea to combine a few interests of mine to tell this story to the world. I thought about three things that I love, beer , history and motorcycles, to that end I present you with Arctic Alchemy..discoveries of the Red Hand.

Here's the story:
In July 2010, I am departing from Bethlehem with two friends on a 3 week journey about 2000 miles north to the Canadian Arctic. The purpose is to recreate a historic and somewhat mysterious ale that was originally commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1851 to ensure health and nutritional value to a team of Arctic Explorers. These explorers were on a rescue mission to find the remains of a previous mission some 9 years earlier. Sir Edward Belcher took 5 ships and several thousand bottles of Allsopp's Arctic Ale on the journey; the ale was almost 12% alcohol and packed with hops to provide a powerful antiscorbutic defense against scurvy, a leading killer of long arctic voyages.
Exploring the Northwest Passage, was a ridiculously dangerous mission, especially in the 19th century, Allsopp's Ale, withstood the sub-freezing temperatures and was regarded so highly for its taste and healing properties. Sir Edward Belcher failed on his journey, abandoned 4 of the 5 ships in the ice, and returned to England to be court-marshalled (some thanks... huh?). A few of the bottles of Allsopp’s Ale came back to England, where in 2007 a bottle came up on EBay, and reportedly sold for 503,000.00 dollars (this is what caught my interest). To my knowledge, there are only 2 bottles left in the world from the 1852 expedition.

I have researched this ale in the deepest of all journals and records, both here and abroad I now have a recipe for this Ale, and intend to brew it near the Belcher Islands of the Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic.

The story of this important ale is very obscure, but has deep historical significance, one of Belcher's ship's that was abandoned, the HMS Resolute, has been brought into the light recently with the modern movie " National Treasure ", not sure if you are familiar, but you can Google the Resolute , and the two desks that where made from the ships timbers . It's the desk in the Oval office of President Obama, the other one is in Buckingham Palace (the Queen sits at that one.)

Here's the rub,
• The modern journey is to be filmed into a 60 minute documentary We are driving adventure style motorcycles , being followed by a support vehicle/ filmmakers
• I am brewing outside in the element's on the shoreline of the Hudson Bay
• We are making several stops along the way , French Canadian breweries, historical stops, Inuit and Cree Indian villages for interviewing and cultural events
• We are bringing back about 100 gallons of our beer to bottle and promote the film, using water from the famous Rupert River.

The name of the documentary is “Arctic Alchemy, discoveries of the Red Hand ......" (The red hand was the trade mark of Allsopp's brewery, which went out of business in the late 1920’s

Last week, we started filming some early footage , the history, the purpose, and who we are etc. I am working with a very experienced filmmaker from Utah and California, and two cinematographers from Russia.

In addition, I now own an orginal " full and sealed " bottle of the 1852 ale, and have a recipe for the ale .

here are some shots :

My bottle of Allsopp's

(http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/mrbowenz/DSC_7069copy.jpg)

Me and one of my riding pals
(http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/mrbowenz/DSC_6991copy.jpg)

You can join me on Facebook here, we are launching a website shortly

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1485999183#/pages/Arctic-Alchemy/197637538644?ref=mf
     

Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: dhacker on December 26, 2009, 02:50:54 PM
Impressive and quite interesting. When and where can expect to see the documentary?
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: 1vertical on December 26, 2009, 04:05:15 PM
Since I do not do facebook, I'll be waiting for the website. Thanks for the heads up Chris and I find the fact
that you are persueing this interesting indeed. What a good concept. Will you share the recipe for the ale?
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: denny on December 26, 2009, 10:04:47 PM
Wow, what an adventure!  Best of luck and I can't wait to see and hear the story!
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: ndcube on December 27, 2009, 12:10:44 AM
I don't think I could own something like that.  At this point in my life the temptation to taste it would be to great.
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: bluesman on December 27, 2009, 01:35:19 AM
That is a truly amazing story.

Facsinating beer history in the making!

I can't wait to see the final cut...AND see the recipe for that historical beer.

Good Luck!
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: rabid_dingo on December 27, 2009, 05:06:35 AM
Awesome! I can't wait to see the journey and follow along! Godspeed and good luck!
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: intrinsic on December 27, 2009, 06:28:14 AM
Fascinating story. I cant wait to see the documentary. Best of luck to you. Oh and I had to do it. I am now a fan of "Arctic Alchemy" on facebook. 
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: k4df4l on December 28, 2009, 02:35:11 AM
Very interesting. 

I look forward to updates as the project progresses!
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on December 28, 2009, 10:29:39 AM
Thanks for the support and encouragement !, the tempation to drink the bottle isn't really there, however if you think about it, there really isn't any thing you can eat or drink from this far back into the past, so in that way it is a bit tempting.

When I brew historical recipes from the 18th and 19th century, I guess it's close, but tasting "true history" is reserved for alcohol only isn't it ? , no food item would survive time like this , so next time you brew a strong ale, save it, mark it .and maybe in 100 years or more someone will find your bottle and discover your story, think about it ....
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: beersk on December 28, 2009, 08:45:11 PM
I don't think I could own something like that.  At this point in my life the temptation to taste it would be to great.

I don't think even a 12% abv beer would hold for 160 years...it probably tastes horrid. 

This sounds like a great story though.
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: denny on December 29, 2009, 05:14:43 PM
I once had an opportunity to try a 71 year old bottle of Ballantine Burton ale, and it was indeed not much of a beer at that point.  But I don't think the point here is to "enjoy" the beer as much as to enjoy the history and story.
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: wpshadowens on December 30, 2009, 03:24:33 AM
Very cool adventure indeed. Best of luck on your journey and looking forward to read all about it.

Prost!
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: Kaiser on December 30, 2009, 02:53:56 PM
I once had an opportunity to try a 71 year old bottle of Ballantine Burton ale, and it was indeed not much of a beer at that point.  But I don't think the point here is to "enjoy" the beer as much as to enjoy the history and story.

I had the same opportunity last week end and yes, it was more about drinking an really old beer than about enjoying a really good beer.

But that story is very interesting. Glad I decided to look in here.

Kai
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on February 07, 2010, 12:39:24 PM
Recieved a nice bump in the Philadelphia Daily News on Friday here:

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/83620162.html
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: bluesman on February 07, 2010, 03:31:30 PM
Very nice article. Have you tried the recipe at home on a pilot scale or anything?
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on February 08, 2010, 11:00:50 AM
I did brew this last summer and it was fantastic( 10 gallons ) , I am brewing it on a commercial scale ( well, 15 bbls next week ) , I am lucky enough to have friends with a small brewpub here in PA, they will serve it after an extended maturation period in conjunction with the start of my trip for promotional purposes.
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mikeypedersen on February 08, 2010, 06:14:19 PM
Sounds like an awesome story, can't wait to see the documentary.

However, you need to add "owner of the coolest brewshed ever" in the about me section.
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: 1vertical on February 08, 2010, 06:20:37 PM
Sounds like an awesome story, can't wait to see the documentary.

However, you need to add owner of the coolest brewshed ever in the about me section.
+max

Chris, check out the 100 yr old scotch link in the Pub... Will you be planning
a trip to antarctica?
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on February 08, 2010, 11:41:39 PM
Sounds like an awesome story, can't wait to see the documentary.

However, you need to add owner of the coolest brewshed ever in the about me section.
+max

Chris, check out the 100 yr old scotch link in the Pub... Will you be planning
a trip to antarctica?

Thanks, one polar adventure will be enough for this brewer, ask me again when I return  ;)

Glad you guys like the shed , spent the weekend there snowmobiling and brewing = ARCTIC TRAINING
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on March 23, 2010, 11:14:22 PM
Bump: ;D

I am please to launch my offical website here , let me know what you think ? :

http://www.arcticalchemy.com/ (http://www.arcticalchemy.com/)
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: 1vertical on March 24, 2010, 05:08:35 AM
Chris,
I think you have been busy. Let the adventure begin. Nice site and what
better way to keep this thing rolling along.
 :P
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: mrbowenz on March 24, 2010, 11:05:17 AM
Thanks mate !
Title: Re: Arctic Alchemy..
Post by: bluesman on March 24, 2010, 03:58:54 PM
Really nice website!

Keep up the great work.